Administrative court overturns ECFA referendum ruling
The ROC Supreme Administrative Court ruled June 14 that the Central Election Commission must reconsider a proposed referendum regarding the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).
The proposal, which asked, “Do you agree that the government should sign an ECFA with China?” was submitted to the CEC April 23, 2010. The Cabinet’s Referendum Review Commission rejected it June 4 the same year, on the grounds that it does not meet the qualification of “approving a government policy” as stated in the Referendum Act.
According to the commission, a referendum should seek to change the status quo, but under the TSU proposal this would have been impossible as its wording asked whether citizens agree to a government policy.
TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei then took the case to court, but the Taipei High Administrative Court upheld the decision April 21, 2011, whereupon Huang appealed.
In its ruling, the Supreme Administrative Court said the Referendum Act does not require the use of negative wording to disapprove a government policy, as had been argued by the RRC and lower court.
It also required the CEC and RRC to re-examine the referendum proposal in terms of its legality in line with the act, including in the process a binding, quasi-judicial hearing to clarify the content of the proposal, rather than a public hearing intended only to obtain public input.
Huang said he was pleased that the court had finally upheld citizens’ basic right to political participation, adding that he believes the decision will contribute to the further development of Taiwan’s democracy.
The TSU has proposed three referendums on ECFA, all of which were thrown out by the RRC.
Executive Yuan Spokesman Hu Yu-wei said the Cabinet respected the ruling and will have the RRC review the case in line with regulations. (THN)