Premier rejects scrapping plant without a vote

‘ILLEGAL’::The Council of Grand Justices has ruled that the ex-DPP regime’s move to halt construction of the nuclear plant was unconstitutional, Jiang said

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 - Page 1

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday rejected a proposal that the Executive Yuan order an immediate halt to the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) without waiting for the result of a referendum.

The Executive Yuan scrapping the construction unilaterally is “not an option to be considered” because it is “unconstitutional and illegal,” Jiang told Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers at a caucus meeting.

The Council of Grand Justices had ruled that the decision by the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration to halt the plant’s construction in October 2000 was unconstitutional, he said.

Four months after the construction was halted, the DPP administration made a U-turn, partly because it had dealt a huge blow to the economy and partly because the council’s Interpretation No. 520 ruled that the directive had been unconstitutional, Jiang said.

In the interpretation, the council said that the Executive Yuan halted the construction without prior legislative consent, violating the principle of separation of executive and legislative powers because the budget earmarked for the facility had been passed by the legislature, Jiang said.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) expressed similar views on Wednesday, saying that based on Interpretation No. 520, since the legislature has passed the budget, the Executive Yuan is legally bound to put it into use.

The DPP has rejected Ma’s opinion on the constitutional interpretation, with DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) saying that Ma must know that the grand justices had made it clear in the interpretation that the Executive Yuan has a mandate to stop the construction as long as it obtains the approval of the legislature in advance.

DPP Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) yesterday proposed that the legislature initiate a motion to halt the construction to force the Executive Yuan to scrap the construction without putting the issue to a referendum.

Later yesterday, when questioned by Lin at the question-and-answer session, Jiang said he agreed that constitutionally the Executive Yuan and the legislature could take action to stop the construction, but he raised other concerns.

Lin asked Jiang whether the Executive Yuan would abide by a legislative resolution that the construction be halted.

The legislature could decide the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant by resolution because the issue is an “important affair of the state,” as stipulated in Article 63 of the Constitution, Lin said.

In response, Jiang said he was in no position to interpret the Constitution as to whether the issue could be considered an important affair of the state.

Under the Referendum Act (公民投票法), there is no mechanism to stop a referendum from being held once an initiative is established, Jiang said, adding that the result of a referendum supersedes that of a legislative resolution.