The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday said the wording of the planned referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) proposed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was a “trick,” because if the vote failed, it would authorize the construction and operation of the controversial plant.
The KMT caucus unveiled the text of its initiative during the legislative session yesterday morning, which asked voters if they agreed “that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be halted and that it not become operational.”
“The KMT is trying to distort public opinion with this wording. The people cannot accept this and must step forward to participate in Saturday’s [tomorrow] nationwide anti-nuclear demonstrations to make their voices heard,” DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said.
“The magnitude 5.6 earthquake that jolted Taiwan yesterday morning again reminded us why the safety of nuclear power plants is a concern in Taiwan because they are all located either on or near fault lines,” Su said.
DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) had never mentioned that the plant’s operation would be put to the vote because this would involve assessing the safety of the plant.
“Since the referendum is unable to determine the safety of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, it should not be used to authorize the plant’s operation,” Lin said.
Lin said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Jiang were underestimating the public’s intelligence by trying to take advantage of the high threshold for passing referendums so the power plant could be completed and begin operation.
According to past rulings handed down by the Supreme Administrative Court, the text of a referendum should be consistent with the position of the proposer and the wording should be positive and simple so as not to confuse voters, DPP spokesperson Wang Ming-sheng (王閔生) said.
“The two questions in the KMT’s proposal reveal its true position on the issues, which is to complete the construction of the plant and make it operational,” Wang said.
The KMT’s handling of the matter is “full of absurdity and trickery,” DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said, citing as an example the premier switching his position on whether he would vote in the referendum and saying he would resign if the referendum “failed.”
Former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said the KMT’s strategy in the wording of the text went against the principle of ethical politics and was a clear attempt at manipulation.
“Only if the people come together will we be able to manifest change,” Tsai said, urging people to participate in tomorrow’s demonstrations, which are to take place in Taipei, Greater Taichung, Greater Kaohsiung and Taitung.
Separately, Tsai’s office dismissed comments made by Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) that the DPP’s pledge to achieve a nuclear-free homeland by 2025 was an empty one, as the party has never submitted a set of policies to reach that goal.
Tsai’s spokesperson Hung Yao-fu (洪耀福) said in a press release that the former DPP chairperson had set the goal after assessing the matter thoroughly with academics.
The Ma administration has never worked on making the nation nuclear-free, despite this being listed in the Basic Environment Act (環境基本法) as a national goal, Hung said.
“Chang’s comments showed his ignorance of the issue,” Hung added.