Tue, Apr 22, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Citizens resort to self-harm to be heard

By Lee Min-yung 李敏勇

The policy on nuclear power of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which governs Taiwan as a foreign power, is foolhardy in the extreme. The construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) is known to entail serious risks, but even after Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster and the resulting escalation of anti-nuclear sentiment in this country, these plans are going ahead, regardless of what the public wants.

Even if you want to see the fourth power plant scrapped, you must respect democratic mechanisms and promote a referendum on the issue.

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), who has tried to bring the issue to the attention of the public on many occasions, and been repeatedly treated with contempt by the pernicious authorities, has now let people close to him know of his intention to go on an indefinite hunger strike at Gikong Presbyterian Church.

The premises used to be Lin’s home and is the place his mother and twin daughters were murdered almost 25 years ago. From 10am on Tuesday until the construction is halted, he will starve himself in protest at the government’s willful arbitrariness.

This is another example of the current wave of social protests, following on from the revolutionary Sunflower movement protesting the non-transparent way the government handled the cross-strait service trade agreement. More than that, it is an appeal to people’s empathy.

The pro-nuclear lobby has always been strong. When the DPP was in power the government failed in its attempt to halt the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant. Indeed, considerable funds were earmarked for its continued construction, and the DPP itself came under much criticism for supporting Lin’s calls to halt construction.

Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was unable to stop the pro-nuclear momentum, as the DPP did not have a majority in the legislature, and neither were the recommendations of the Council of Grand Justices or the Control Yuan heard. As a result, the construction of the plant has never been successfully derailed.

Too much has already been wasted on building the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant. If construction is not halted, even more money is going to be squandered on it. The public cannot accept the anxiety of possibly ending their days in the nightmare of a nuclear disaster. The depth of feeling against the continued construction of the plant shows the extent to which the public’s perspective on the government’s economic development and energy policies has changed over time. If the powers that be insist on plowing ahead regardless, they will be digging their own political grave.

The murder of Lin’s mother and daughters took place on Feb. 28, 1980, several months after the Kaohsiung Incident, also known as the Meilidao Incident (美麗島事件), in which Lin was implicated. On that day, his residence was under around-the-clock surveillance by the security services. The identity of the murderer is still not known, although it is not too hard to imagine who might have been behind it.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) belongs to the same political party that was behind the authoritarian regime when all this was happening and is the current head of government. How can he now ignore this courageous stand by Lin?

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