Fri, Feb 02, 2001 - Page 1 News List

New energy law mooted to solve crisis

POWER PLAY With negotiations set to start between the ruling and opposition parties over the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, sources close to the president have suggested any agreement be set down in law

By Lin Mei-chun, Lin Chieh-Yu and Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung, right, discussed matters related to the halt of construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant with Legislative Yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng, left, and KMT Secretary General Lin Feng-cheng, behind him, while attending the handover ceremony for the KMT legislative caucus whips yesterday morning.

PHOTO: LU CHUN-WEI, TAIPEI TIMES

While the Presidential Office indicated that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) might agree to a resumption of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四) project under certain conditions, Legislative Yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday softened his previous stance and expressed his willingness to negotiate with Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄).

At a Chinese New Year dinner hosted by Chen for the heads of the five branches of the central government, Wang agreed to meet Chang this morning to begin negotiations.

If the negotiations between the leaders of the executive and legislative branches fail to result in agreement, the Presidential Office said, Chen will, in accordance with the Constitution, hold further negotiations in which he will act as mediator.

Opposition party caucus leaders agreed in the afternoon during a closed-door session with Wang that he should participate in the negotiations.

"Out of courtesy and respect, all caucus leaders agree that I may go to listen to the views of the premier, but I should act in accordance with the Constitution," Wang said.

People First Party spokesperson Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交) said, however, that Article 44 of the Constitution authorized the president to organize meetings to resolve disputes between government branches, but "only in respect of controversies that are not specifically covered by the Constitution."

"But the power plant controversy should not be i.ncluded in this regulation because it is a matter of law. The Constitution clearly states a set of procedures for the legislative and executive branches to handle any dispute over a legal matter," Hwang said.

"Wang could only go [to the meeting] if the president organized the meeting out of his personal intention to end the tension between the two branches, but not by virtue of the Constitution.

"Even if he goes, he alone cannot make any promises. All final decisions must be made as a result of discussions with lawmakers,"Hwang said.

Sources within the Preidential Office, who declined to be named, said that the president is trying to create a "compromise option," which can satisfy both the DPP and the opposition alliance.

"Since the DPP government and the opposition parties have agreed to build a nuclear-free country, we believe that both sides will make concessions and ultimately reach agreement, which should be enshrined in legislation," the sources said. "Even the DPP has to persuade its members to accept the final agreement."

According to some DPP lawmakers, the conditions currently under consideration by the president might include: early decommissioning of the first, second, and third nuclear power plants; decommissioning of the fourth plant if other energy projects can supply sufficient electricity in the future; the enshrining into law of a scheduled date for decommissioning of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant; a clear declaration that no further nuclear power plants will be built.

The sources said that any conditions will still have to be discussed during the upcoming negotiations.

"The final agreement must be written into law," according to the sources, "in order to ensure that both the government and opposition parties abide by it in the future."

Meanwhile, to extend his goodwill, the premier yesterday unexpectedly appeared at the handover ceremony of the KMT's legislative caucus leaders, urging the opposition alliance to "never close the door to negotiations."

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