Thu, Apr 24, 2014 - Page 1 News List

President visits Presbyterian church

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday presents a card to Chiu Chiung-yuan, a minister at the church in Taipei where former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Lin Yi-xiong is staging a hunger strike.

Photo courtesy of Taipei Press Photographers’ Association

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday visited the Gikong Presbyterian Church, where former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) is staging an anti-nuclear hunger strike, as more support from politicians poured in for Lin risking his life as an admonition to the government.

Ma was unable to meet Lin — who is declining to see anyone during the hunger strike that began on Tuesday against the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) — during his three-minute visit and only signed his name on a notebook prepared by the church and left a card for Lin.

A photograph of the card posted by the Presidential Office online showed that Ma promised that a national referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant would be held after a thorough nuclear safety inspection is approved by experts. Ma also asked Lin to take care of his health.

Ma’s pledge appeared to indicate that the government’s position remains unchanged, despite the 73-year-old Lin demanding a halt to the plant’s construction, saying that both the referendum and the safety inspection are “tricks.”

Several supporters outside the church chanted: “Ma Ying-jeou step down” during his visit.

However, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said on the sidelines of an event in Greater Tainan that Ma’s visit showed a form of communication between the government and the people.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) became the third Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) heavyweight, following Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and Ma, to visit Lin and promised to do whatever he could within his power to have Lin end the hunger strike.

Lin, who has neither spoken with nor met anyone since starting the hunger strike in the church at about 11:30am on Tuesday, was seen waving his hands to reporters when he was on his way to the restroom.

Several DPP politicians, including former premiers Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄), as well as Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德), and lawmakers, visited the church to show their support and condemn what they said was the Ma administration’s cold-bloodedness and insistence on continuing the construction, despite opposition from the majority of the public.

Ma would never be awakened because “you could only awake one who’s sleeping, but never someone who pretends to be sleeping,” Hsieh said, adding that Ma understood clearly that all nuclear safety inspections are unreliable as every nuclear power plant that had melted down passed safety inspections, but he still kept talking about the “safety first” principle.

The student leaders of the Sunflower movement also expressed their support for Lin, with Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) saying in a Facebook post that “a leader with a conscience would not let his people risk their lives protesting.”

Meanwhile, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) met with New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) to discuss the plant’s construction followed by a joint press conference after their one-hour meeting.

Chu expressed his support for a national referendum and revision of the high threshold as regulated in the current Referendum Act (公投法), also calling for a party negotiation to deal with the issue that has captured national attention.

Su, who has been trying to garner support from the pan-blue camp to cut short Lin’s hunger strike and resolve the nuclear controversy, said he was pleased with Chu’s positive response.

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