FAPA Statement On Scottish Referendum On Independence

As a grassroots organization promoting freedom, human rights and democracy for the people of Taiwan, the Formosan Association for Public Affairs applauds the way the Scottish referendum was held on September 18. It marked a milestone in the exercise of democracy and set a standard and example for other countries and peoples around the world to emulate.

This independence referendum presented the world with a perfect example to exercise the principles of direct democracy, and the people’s rights of self-determination. The British and Scottish people are to be commended for the mature, reasonable and rational way the referendum was conducted by both sides.

Many ask in what way the Scottish referendum has implications for Taiwan.  We do want to highlight two aspects: the process of the referendum, and economic (over)dependence.

The Scottish referendum process was fair and equitable: it required a simple majority of the votes cast and the question posed to the electorate was straightforward.  In contrast, Taiwan’s current Referendum Act limits the people’s right to hold a fair and effective referendum. The unreasonably high thresholds, complicated manipulation of the questions, and many other restrictions prevent the Taiwanese people from exercising their democracy through a referendum.

The Taiwanese people are also prevented from exercising a free choice on their future by an aggressive and expansionist neighbor, China. Although Taiwan is a de facto sovereign and independent country, China has continued to push Taiwan into diplomatic isolation and forced other nations to only have “unofficial” ties with Taiwan by its claims to sovereignty over Taiwan and its threat of the use of force.

A second aspect relates to economic overdependence: An important reason the Scottish vote came out in favor of remaining within the United Kingdom was Scottish overdependence on England: it has no industrial base to speak of, and its service sector (banking, insurance etc). is totally dominated by the British.  This fact carries a warning for Taiwan not to let its economy become overdependent on China.

FAPA President Mark Kao, Ph.D. comments: “The example of Scotland’s referendum shows that if contentious disagreements can be solved by democratic means, a society can enjoy peace, stability, and prosperity in a sustainable way.

In terms of the process, we hereby call upon the Taiwan government to amend the current Referendum Act and remove the restrictions and thresholds of people’s rights to a referendum. We also call upon the international community to join us in safeguarding the right of self-determination of Taiwanese people.

In terms of economic overdependence, we seriously caution the people and government of Taiwan against letting Taiwan’s economy drift too close to China, so in due time there would be little possibility to make a free choice on the country’s future.

Some people say that the Scots were torn between wanting to vote YES with their hearts (enabling to move towards independence) but NO with their heads (concerned about the economic consequences of the vote).

We are wholeheartedly convinced that the people of Taiwan would want to vote YES with their heads and their hearts!  The people of Taiwan are entitled to decide their own future. The international community needs to provide the people of Taiwan the space to do so, without outside coercion.”

台灣人公共事務會「蘇格蘭獨立公投」聲明稿

做為一個提倡台灣人民自由、人權,以及民主的草根性組織,台灣人公共事務會深切讚許918日蘇格蘭獨立公投的舉辦過程。這次公投是民主實踐的重要里程碑,也為世界各國立下了良好的典範。

這次獨立公投為世界立下了直接民主制,以及人民自決權實踐的楷模。英國人及蘇格蘭人在這次公投中都展現了成熟且理性的民主風範,殊勘嘉許。

許多人疑問蘇格蘭公投與台灣的關係,茲在此提出兩個面向:公投的過程,以及經濟上的過度依賴。

蘇格蘭公投的過程公平合理:公投通過的門檻為「有效票過半」的相對多數,且公投題目簡單易懂。相對地,台灣現行的公投法限制了人民舉辦公平有效的公投。除了不合理的通過門檻,對於公投題目的文字操弄,以及許多其他的限制導致台灣人民無法透過公投真正實踐民主。事實上,從11年前立法院通過公投法後,沒有任何公投案順利通過門檻。

除此之外,台灣人民自由決定自己未來的權利也被中國擴張主義式的侵略野心所侵犯。縱使台灣是一個實質上主權獨立的國家,中國持續對台灣實行外交孤立,並持續以對台宣示主權及軍事力量的脅迫,強迫其他國家只能與台灣維持「非官方」的外交關係。

而有關經濟上的過度依賴:蘇格蘭公投結果為「不獨立」的其中一個重要原因就是蘇格蘭對英國的經濟依賴。蘇格蘭沒有任何基本產業可言,而諸如銀行、保險等服務業又受英國主控。這個現象應被視為台灣不可在經濟上過度依賴中國的借鏡。

台灣人公共事務會會長高龍榮博士表示:「蘇格蘭公投的過程顯示,有歧見的爭端若可以透過民主手段解決,社會便可長久享有和平、穩定、繁榮。」

「在公投程序上,我們在此呼籲台灣政府修改現行的公投法,並移除種種對人民參與公投的限制。我們同時呼籲國際社會與我們一同守護台灣人民的自決權。」

「在經濟過度依賴上,我們嚴正告誡台灣政府及人民,不應讓台灣經濟過度向中國靠攏,以免日後難以對國家的未來做出自由的選擇。」

「有人認為蘇格蘭人在公投上陷入了心裡希望獨立的『感性』以及顧慮到獨立後的經濟狀況的『理性』的兩難中。」

「我們相信台灣人民不論在理性面或感性面上都會在獨立公投上選擇『獨立』!台灣人民有權決定自己的未來,而國際社會應該要提供充分的空間,讓台灣人民可以免於外在威脅。」

(September 19, 2014) FAPA Statement On Scottish Referendum On Independence / 台灣人公共事務會「蘇格蘭獨立公投」聲明稿