Tue, Oct 03, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Tang steadfast on nuclear plant plan

NO CHANGE The premier has made clear once more his stance on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, saying it will be a lot safer than the plants currently in operation

By Joyce Huang and Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Premier Tang Fei pauses to take some medicine during interpellation at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

PHOTO: LEE HONG-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Premier Tang Fei (唐飛) yesterday continued to proclaim his support for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in the face of growing pressure -- from Cabinet colleagues among others -- for the plant to be scrapped.

"The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant's reactors are reasonably safe ? We should therefore continue the project, identify appropriate supportive measures at the same time and suspend operation of the first and second plants, which are less safe," Tang said, adding that alternatives mooted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs were not without flaws.

Meanwhile, an official from the Presidential Office said that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had reached an agreement with the premier on the issue of whether to proceed with construction of the plant, under which the president would respect the Cabinet's final decision.

"Though the president's opinion differs from that of Tang on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant," said acting secretary-general of the Presidential Office Chen Che-nan (陳哲男), "they will eventually stand on the same side when the Cabinet makes its final decision."

Chen Che-nan stressed that the president would support the Cabinet without reservation, but refused to confirm whether he discussed the issue with Tang last week.

Although Tang has previously said that the Cabinet would come up with a final decision by the end of October, he has repeatedly expressed his personal preference for continuing the project. He further argued yesterday that carbon dioxide generated by the use of natural gas would accelerate the build-up of greenhouse gases, which, in his view, "was no less harmful than nuclear power."

Tang added that "nuclear power may not be an absolutely safe option, but it poses less risk."

The DPP's legislative caucus was quick to condemn him.

"If Tang decides to continue the project, he will simply have to step down," legislator and veteran anti-unclear activist Lai Chin-lin (賴勁麟) said. "Frankly, Tang has been thoughtless, disrespectful and shameless."

Party caucus convener Hsu Tien-tsai (許添財) also said that the DPP would do everything in its power to prevent Tang from announcing its continuation.

"The DPP will adopt every means at its disposal including urging the Presidential Office, party headquarters, the legislative caucus and the Cabinet to prevent Tang's announcement," Hsu added.

"The ultimate goal for the ruling party is to stop the project, keep Tang in his post and talk him into dropping the idea of continuing the plant's construction," said Legislator David Chou (周伯倫), urging his colleagues not to pressure Tang to resign.

Chen Che-nan, however, also asked reporters at yesterday's press conference not to continually discuss the question of whether Tang would quit, saying that the president still regarded him as the best choice to lead the Cabinet.

"The president communicates well with the premier," the Presidential Office spokesman said, "and it is neither fair nor polite to continually question Tang's position."

New Party Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) accused the president and premier of adopting a "good cop, bad cop" strategy and predicted that the new government would ultimately proceed with the plant's construction.

"President Chen plays the `good cop' by maintaining his anti-nuclear stance to satisfy his supporters," Lai said. "Premier Tang, as a KMT member who is unlikely to seek election for office in the future, takes the part of `bad cop.'"

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