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.”