Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) met with Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday to discuss the DPP-proposed national referendum on the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, with both describing the meeting as “the first step toward conciliation” between the pan-green and pan-blue camp.
Su visited Hau, a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), at Taipei City Hall to seek the mayor’s support for the DPP’s plebiscite on the plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮), which was submitted last week as the DPP’s solution to end the 30-year-old controversy over the plant.
The controversy could be easily resolved if President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration orders the construction of the plant to stop, Su said after the meeting, adding that the special statute had been formulated to make it easier for Ma to take a decision.
The proposal is also intended to eliminate the need for the hunger strike planned tomorrow by 72-year-old former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) and end a prolonged division in society over the issue, Su said.
Su is scheduled to meet New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) of the KMT and representatives of environmentalist groups later this week.
There is a possibility that he may meet with Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) as the latter said yesterday that he welcomed Su’s proposal to meet with him and discuss on the fate of the plant.
Jiang has previously rejected holding a national referendum with a simple majority threshold, deriding it as reckless and irresponsible.
Hau said that while he cannot support the DPP’s proposal, he will faithfully convey Su’s views to Ma, who also serves as KMT chairman, and other leaders of the party.
However, Hau reiterated that he is against putting the plant into operation until its safety has been proven.
The plant has been a source of controversy amid public concern over nuclear safety, particularly after an earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.
The Ma government is hoping that the plant in New Taipei City will begin commercial operations in 2016, saying that it is vital to the nation’s economy as it would prevent an electricity shortfall in the next decade when the three existing plants are set to go offline.
However, Hau said that the government has not convinced the public about the safety of the plant.
The majority of Gongliao residents, located within the 30km radius of the evacuation zone of the plant, are opposed to its construction according to eight surveys conducted by the city government, the mayor said.
Meanwhile, Lin’s plan for a hunger strike has raised concern not only among DPP politicians, but also several KMT politicians, with the former worried about his health and the latter fretting over a political backlash similar to the storm over the Sunflower movement.
Former premier Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) of the DPP yesterday warned Ma against underestimating Lin’s influence, as he has been known for his anti-nuclear advocacy for decades.
“If Ma does not handle the situation carefully, the ‘anti-nuclear tsunami’ could be the last straw that breaks his regime,” Yu said.
Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), also of the DPP, urged the Council of Grand Justices to deal as soon as possible with a demand for a the Constitutional interpretation filed by DPP lawmakers, which argues that the construction of the Gongliao plant would place people’s lives in jeopardy — and thus violate the Constitution.