Five Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday went against the party line in several rounds of voting initiated by the opposition to try to stop the construction of the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮), but the attempts all ended in failure.
At the plenary session, KMT lawmakers Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) and Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) voted in favor of a motion calling for a proposal which demanded an immediate halt to construction of the power plant to be discussed at the meeting.
The motion was tabled by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) and supported by the People First Party (PFP).
In another two votes on a motion that proposed calling for the legislature to establish an ad hoc committee to investigate safety concerns at the power plant, another KMT lawmaker, Lin Kuo-cheng (林國正), sided with the opposition to vote in favor, while KMT lawmakers Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井) and Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) abstained.
Five other KMT lawmakers failed to show up for the meeting.
Prior to the plenary session, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) attended a DPP caucus meeting yesterday morning and called for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who doubles as KMT chairman, to “let go” and allow KMT lawmakers to vote according to their own will rather than complying with the KMT’s position.
The KMT caucus said that party lawmakers who failed to vote as they were instructed risked being fined at least NT$10,000 (US$334) because the party on Thursday issued a “Grade-A mobilization order” to all KMT caucus members to block motions about the power plant made by the opposition.
The KMT has 63 caucus members, excluding Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Deputy Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), KMT caucus whip Ling Hung-chih (林鴻池) said, adding that the KMT would deal with the cases according to party disciplinary procedures.
As public sentiment against the power plant continues to grow, mainly because of concerns over safety and the lack of nuclear waste disposal facilities, the government has been facing an uphill struggle to win support from KMT lawmakers for its proposal to hold a national referendum to determine the fate of the plant.
Critics have said that the way the question would be framed in a possible referendum — “Do you agree that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be halted and that it not become operational (你是否同意核四廠停止興建不得運轉)?” — would allow construction of the plant to continue by default because of the high threshold required by the Referendum Act (公民投票法).
The proposal, co-sponsored by 32 KMT lawmakers and led by Lee Ching-hua (李慶華), was submitted to the legislature yesterday.
Once the proposal is approved by the legislature, a referendum must be held no sooner than one month and no later than six months later.
The PFP yesterday proposed a motion that the legislature schedule a vote on whether the building of the plant should continue and whether it should begin commercial operations and then let the public vote in a plebiscite to endorse the legislature’s decision or veto it.
It was “irresponsible” that a decision on the plant be left up to the public while lawmakers wash their hands of it, PFP caucus whip Thomas Lee (李桐豪) said.
All DPP and TSU lawmakers voted in support of the motion, while all 59 KMT lawmakers present at the meeting were against it.
Additional reporting by Chris Wang