Wed, Apr 24, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Opposition boycotts plenary session

By Chris Wang and Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporters

Attendants collect banners from the floor of the legislature in Taipei yesterday following all-day clashes between pan-blue and pan-green parties over construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

A Legislative Yuan plenary session to discuss the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) national referendum proposal on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) went idle again yesterday without any progress as opposition lawmakers continued to boycott the agenda and a cross-party negotiation failed.

In a repeat of Friday’s session, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmakers occupied the podium and boycotted the session, saying that the government should immediately order a halt to construction of the plant, rather than pushing through the referendum.

The KMT caucus did not have a chance to have its referendum proposal, initiated by KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華), discussed on Friday or yesterday, but again placed it on the plenary agenda for Friday in a meeting of the Procedure Committee later yesterday, which means that the next plenary session could end up exactly the same as the previous two if the parties fail to reach a consensus.

DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) reiterated that the controversial project should be halted immediately and that the DPP would “engage the national referendum war head-on” despite the referendum being flawed because of its high threshold and the “distorted” question the government planned to pose.

“However, we demand that the KMT respect the four-point conclusion of a party negotiation earlier this session, including freezing the remainder of the budget of the power plant for last year and this year, no additional budget, a negotiation on the ‘birdcage referendum’ and the establishment of a nuclear safety monitoring committee in the legislature,” Ker said, adding that none of the four had been achieved.

DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said the party opposed “the content of the referendum, not the referendum itself.”

The TSU had different demands, with caucus whip Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) saying that the party believed three pieces of legislation — the amendment of the Referendum Act (公民投票法), the act on promotion of a nuclear-free homeland and an amendment to the Nuclear Reactor Facilities Control Act (核子反應器設施管制法) — should be discussed in the plenary session.

The DPP’s proposal to halt the construction of the nuclear power plant and a People First Party (PFP) proposal to initiate a referendum with the question: “Do you support the construction and operation of the nuclear power plant if nuclear safety is assured?” both failed to pass in the Procedure Committee at noon yesterday.

Outside the legislature, dozens of people dressed in black held up yellow signs saying, “Halting the [nuclear power plant’s] construction immediately is the public’s will” as they walked around the legislature before staging a sit-in to protest the KMT-proposed referendum.

The Green Citizen Action Alliance, urged the 33 pro-nuclear KMT legislators to give up on passing the proposal and respect the public’s will to abolish the plant.

The protesters also staged a skit in which a performer wearing a mask of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) face and dressed in a magician’s costume handed an envelope that read “70 percent of the public’s will” to another performing wearing a mask of Lee’s face and dressed like a bunny girl, telling the latter to put it in a box labeled “birdcage referendum.”

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