Tens of thousands of people staged a protest in Taipei on Sunday afternoon, expressing strong dissatisfaction with the amendments to the Referendum Act.
The massive rally, which was held in front of the Presidential Office Building on Ketagalan Boulevard, was organized by the opposition party Kuomintang (KMT), which slammed the revision for significantly eroding voters’ rights and described the revised version as an “iron cage”.
Besides KMT chairman Wu Den-yih and former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, five presidential hopefuls of the party－Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu, Foxconn Technology Group founder Terry Gou Tai-ming, former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu Li-luan, former Taipei County magistrate Chou Hsi-wei, and National Taiwan University political science professor Chang Ya-chung, attended the event.
Last month, Taiwan’s legislature, controlled by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as it holds the majority of seats, decided that national referendums will be held every two years, starting on the fourth Saturday of August in 2021, instead of alongside national elections or local government elections as seen before.
The move was considered by the KMT as part of the DPP’s strategies to win the presidential election scheduled for January 11 next year.
Speaking at the event, Ma slammed the DPP for depriving people of their rights enshrined in the constitution by revising the Referendum Act, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
Under the revision, the public will not be able to determine whether the now-defunct Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be restarted, Ma said, adding that it has violated the principle of legitimate expectation.
Ma also lashed out at President Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP for trying to lure more votes by supporting the anti-extradition bill movement in Hong Kong, while she, on the other hand, “put the referendum law into an iron cage”. He said Tsai was not a defender of democracy but a destroyer.
Chu said the DPP’s revision of the referendum law is tantamount to oppression against different opinions. He called on the public to fight the “green terror” (green is the color representing the DPP) and help both KMT and Taiwan win in January’s election.
Both Guo and Han also urged people to use their ballots to end the DPP rule.
KMT chairman Wu Den-yih also urged the people to “only vote for [pan-]blue candidates,” saying that only the KMT can protect Taiwan and the people’s rights.
In his comments, Premier Su Tseng-chang said the revision of the referendum law followed the examples of democratically advanced countries, such as the United Kingdom and Canada, saying it was KMT that had tried to block referendums.