“Since the option to completely halt construction of the nuclear power plant has received the support of the majority of the Taiwanese public, the Legislative Yuan — as the highest ranking governmental unit representing the will of the people — should do its job and immediately pass a resolution to halt the construction of the plant,” Kao said.
The legislature could avoid wasting manpower and national resources on a national referendum by such a vote, he said.
If the KMT will not back down on pushing the proposed referendum, it should at least provide a report on the quality of construction to prove the plant is worth the investment needed to finish it, and it should amend the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to lower the threshold for referendum votes to better reflect the will of the people, Kao said.
“If neither of these demands are met, then the referendum is simply a political ploy to support the continued construction of the plant and the KMT is taking the people for fools,” he said.
However, KMT lawmakers were warned in a meeting on Wednesday evening that they risked being fined and punished by the party if they did not vote in support of the proposal. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), in his role as KMT chairman, and Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) attended the meeting.
KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said earlier this week that the party should consider pushing the referendum through the extra session if the government promises that ongoing safety tests at the plant can be completed in six months.
Wu had won support from more than 50 KMT lawmakers for the idea, but his colleagues backtracked after Wednesday’s meeting.
KMT caucus whip Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said Wu’s suggestion would be incorporated into the proposed referendum in a form of a supplementary resolution stating that fuel rods could only be loaded into reactors and the plant go into operation after permission is granted by the Atomic Energy Commission.
At a press conference at the KMT caucus office, Wu Yu-jen (吳玉珍), who leads the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ office in charge of the plant project, yesterday said the government will continue rigorous testing at the plant to ensure its safe operation regardless of when a referendum on the plant’s future is held.
“We can promise that the ministry will never conduct safety tests on the power plant in haste, whether the referendum is held or not,” she said.
Atomic Energy Council Deputy Minister Chou Yuan-ching (周源卿) dismissed concerns that the council’s inspectors are inexperienced and could not ensure the safe operation of a nuclear power plant.
Lin Tsung-yao (林宗堯), a former member of the commission’s Fourth Nuclear Power Plant Safety Monitoring Committee, wrote a paper listing what he said were a number of safety issues that have plagued the nuclear power plant and could lead to the facility failing to meet required safety standards.
Wu said the ministry received a copy of Lin’s paper on Wednesday night and the suggestions he made in the paper would be factored into the ministry’s specific safety review for the plant.