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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Taiwan's Referenda

VZCZCXYZ0007
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #0050 0111013
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111013Z JAN 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7791
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7654
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8922

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 000050

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD - NIDA EMMONS
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: TAIWAN'S REFERENDA


1. Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies gave extensive
reporting and editorial coverage on January 11 to the legislative
elections which will be held island-wide on January 12. According
to news reports, the DPP is aiming at winning 50 seats in the new
113-seat Legislature, but KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung pledged to step
down Thursday if the DPP won 50 or more seats in Saturday's
elections. The pro-independence "Liberty Times" ran a banner
headline on page eight that said "Ministry of Foreign Affairs Urges
[the Taiwan People] to Cast Referendum Ballots Proactively so as to
Protect Taiwan and Speak out against China."

2. In terms of editorials and commentaries, a "Liberty Times"
editorial strongly criticized the Blue camp's attempt to boycott the
referenda and urged the voters to cast referendum ballots in
Saturday's elections. An editorial in the pro-independence,
English-language "Taipei Times" also chimed in by saying that to
boycott the referenda "is not only an insult to voters, but also
harmful to the nations' effort to consolidate democracy." End
summary.

A) "The Pan-Blue Camp's Attempt to Block Referenda Is an
Anti-Democratic Act"

The pro-independence "Liberty Times" [circulation: 700,000]
editorialized (1/11):

"... In short, the two referenda [initiated by the DPP] on
'recovering the ill-gotten [KMT] party assets' and on 'Taiwan's UN
membership,' respectively, are essential to transitional justice [a
term commonly used by the DPP to encompass all elements of Taiwan's
transition from single-party state to democracy]and Taiwan's
national status, so their importance is quite evident. If the Blue
camp succeeds in using dirty tricks to boycott the referendum on
recovering the ill-gotten [KMT] party assets tomorrow, then it
likely bodes poorly for the UN referendum slated for March. Just as
President Chen said, the referendum to recover the ill-gotten party
assets will be the last chance for the Taiwan people to retrieve the
assets stolen by the KMT. If the people miss this opportunity, the
KMT will feel assured about its possession and sale of its party
assets, with which it can engage in unjust competition with other
political parties and maintain its enormous political influence.
The UN referendum is aimed at expressing the Taiwan people's strong
interest in participating in international affairs; should it pass,
the international community will find it difficult to ignore the
fact of Taiwan's existence, and will thus accept Taiwan's
participation in international society. This is the reason why
China has strongly mobilized the United States and the European
Union, aided by the KMT from the inside, to seek to block the UN
referendum. Thus, we must urge the voters to attach great
importance to the referenda, pick up and cast the referendum ballots
proactively, in order to support Taiwan becoming a complete country
of justice. The simple act of picking and casting the [referendum]
ballots will have extraordinary significance for Taiwan. ..."

B) "Rejecting the Tools of Democracy"

The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" [circulation:
30,000] editorialized (1/11):

"... It is not that surprising to hear calls from the KMT to boycott
the referendums. After all, it was the Pan-Blue camp's actions that
resulted in the 'bird cage' version of the Referendum Law, which
resorts to technicalities to restrict the use of referendums,
depriving Taiwanese of greater democratic power. But anyone who
respects the country's democratic pioneers and feels a sense of
responsibility in defending the country's hard-won democracy should
not allow themselves to be intoxicated by the KMT's anti-democratic
rhetoric. ...

"Taking part in a referendum is a privilege but also an obligation
from which each citizen of a democracy should draw pride. The
boycott proposal is not only an insult to voters, but also harmful
to the nation's effort to consolidate democracy."

YOUNG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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