Wed, Jan 17, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Premier to be questioned over nuclear plant fiasco

INVESTIGATION The Control Yuan, which has been probing events surrounding the scrapping of the project, will call Chang Chun-hsiung before them

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) will be asked to meet with officials from the Control Yuan as the nation's watchdog body continues its investigation into the decision-making process which led to the discontinuation of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四). The investigation, begun on Monday, is trying to establish whether the decisions involved any procedural wrongdoing, and, if so, who should be held responsible.

In addition to the premier, six high-ranking officials from executive organizations will also be requested to meet with members of the Control Yuan to detail how and why the contentious decision was reached.

The series of interviews began with Taiwan Power Company (Taipower, 台電) Chairman Hsi Shi-chi (席時濟), Taipower President Kuo Chun-hui (郭俊惠), and Atomic Energy Council Chairman Hsia Der-yu (夏德鈺). Yesterday the Control Yuan's five-member panel listened to reports given by Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Hsin-yi (林信義) and Chen Chao-yih (陳昭義), secretary-general of the Energy Commission. Tomorrow, the panel will meet with Auditor-General of the Ministry of Audit, Su Chen-ping (蘇振平).

"Given that these units -- Taipower, the Atomic Energy Council and the Ministry of Economic Affairs -- could only offer advice regarding the pros and cons of the matter, the final decision still rested with the executive branch, and for this reason, it is necessary for the premier to undergo questioning," said panel member Huang Chin-jenn (黃勤鎮), adding that they have decided to issue their notice to Chang after the Chinese New Year vacation.

Concerning Monday's ruling by the Council of Grand Justices that the decision-making process behind the scrapping of the plant was flawed, Huang said that, "The verdict reached by the council will be one of the key references for our investigation."

He added that their investigation would center on whether the Executive Yuan's decision-making process was illegal or involved malpractice.

"There should be a set of appropriate administrative procedures to be followed when an important policy is to be changed," Huang said.

Panel member Chang Teh-ming (張德銘) said that cases considered to be flawed in the policymaking procedure were regarded as involving the greatest degree of wrongdoing. "It is too early to jump to any conclusion about what their final decision will be," he added.

The panel declined to comment after meeting Lin yesterday on the grounds that the investigation was incomplete, only saying they had tried to understand the causes behind the policy U-turn made by the ministry.

The Control Yuan may propose corrective action to government departments and take punitive action against public functionaries, including impeachment in the case of the most serious violations of the law or neglect of duties, and censure in less serious cases.

The decision made by the Executive Yuan on Oct. 27 to halt construction of the plant outraged the opposition because the plant had been approved by the previous KMT-led government. The opposition attacked the decision, saying that the executive branch had not shown any respect for a bill that had been passed in the legislature, and therefore appealed to the Control Yuan to penalize the officials involved in the matter.

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