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2004-03-24 23:14:56

    Taipei, March 21 (CNA) Premier Yu Shyi-kun directed the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) Wednesday to bring forward a draft amendment to the Referendum Act to the Executive Yuan for approval within a month.

    Yu issued the directive during a weekly Cabinet meeting after hearing a report on the March 20 presidential election and the first nationwide referendum held in conjunction with the election.

    In addition to electing a president and vice president, voters also cast two additional ballots for the two referendum questions -- whether Taiwan should increase its anti-missile defenses if mainland China refuses to remove the missiles it has aimed at Taiwan, and whether the government should negotiate with Beijing for the establishment of an interaction mechanism to promote peace across the Taiwan Strait.

    A total of 45.17 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots on the first referendum question, while 45.12 percent voted on the second question, thus failing to reach the required threshold of 50 percent. According to the Referendum Act, a referendum will be considered valid only if more than half of the eligible voters take part.

    The holding of Taiwan's first referendum marked another step forward on the government's efforts to deepen the nation's democracy, even though the two referendum questions failed to pass the threshold to be considered valid, Yu said, adding that he was happy to see more than 7.4 million voters take part in the referendum to show the Taiwan people's strong desire of pursuing peace across the Taiwan Strait. "Through the holding of the March 20 referendum, we have discovered that there are still many inoperable provisions in the existing Referendum Act which should be duly revised," Yu said.

    To facilitate smooth operations of future referendums, the premier asked the MOI to submit a draft revision bill of the Referendum Act within one month to the Executive Yuan for discussion. The draft amendment will be referred to the Legislative Yuan for approval within two months, he added.

(By Luis Huang)


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