President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday engaged in a heated discussion over the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, but failed to reach any consensus during the 90-minute talk.
Ma said the nearly completed plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) must be finished so it can be “maintained in operable condition.”
“That way, we will have an operable nuclear power plant that can be put into operation when we need it. If construction is terminated now, the plant will be scrapped,” Ma said in response to Su’s urging that the plant be stopped.
The two men met at the Presidential Office, while former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) entered the fourth day of what he has said will be an infinite hunger strike to back calls to terminate the project, as mainstream public opinion demands.
Su suggested two ways to end the plant project, but both were rejected by Ma.
Su first suggested that the Executive Yuan announce a halt to the plant and present a report on the decision to the legislature for approval, although it is a constitutionally allowed way for a change to major policy.
Both the DPP, which was in power for eight years, and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) are responsible for the project, which has been a source of controversy for more than three decades, Su said.
“Let us together resolve the issue,” the DPP leader said.
“If you want, in line with the [Council of Grand Justices’] Constitutional Interpretation [No. 520], the Executive Yuan can propose to the legislature to stop the plant,” Su said.
However, Ma said that when the DPP administration called a halt to building the facility in October 2000, the stock market plummeted from 6,400 to 4,600 points and stayed down for three straight months.
He “would rather not repeat that mistake,” Ma said.
“It would have too much of a [negative] impact on society,” he said.
Terminating the project now would also create a massive waste of money, given the estimated NT$280 billion (US$9.23 billion) that has been invested in the project over three decades, he added.
“We cannot waste money like that. The construction of the plant ought to be completed. Installing fuel rods in the plant’s reactors is also part of the construction process,” the president said.
Su said it would cost the nation NT$46 billion more to complete the plant, in addition to the cost of conducting safety checks.
Su also brought up putting the fate of the plant to a national referendum, which Ma said he agreed with.
However, Ma declined to promise that as KMT chairman he would not use party disciplinary measures to demand that KMT lawmakers toe the party line on issues related to referendum thresholds.
If the nuclear issue is put to a referendum, thresholds lower than those specified in the Referendum Act (公民投票法) should be applied to the vote, if it is not decided by a simple majority, Su said.
That none of the six national referendums held so far have seen a voter turnout of over 50 percent, as required under the 2004 act for a referendum to be valid, has proved that it was a “bird cage” law that dooms any referendum to fail, Su said.
“Chairman Su, have you used party discipline to force DPP lawmakers to vote for the party’s policy? Have you?” Ma said.
“Every party has its discipline. You cannot ask me not to impose party discipline on KMT lawmakers if you do not abstain from the use of party discipline as well,” he said.