Fri, Mar 07, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Activist to up pressure on DPP

TIME BOMB The party says it still wants to make Taiwan a nuclear-free country, but its waffling could lead to a showdown with the very people who elected it

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

With a key meeting of the Central Standing Committee coming up next week, the DPP is thinking about how to reach the goal of turning Taiwan into a nuclear-free country and at the same time ease the growing pressure from anti-nuclear activists led by former party member Lin I-hsiung (林義雄).

A staunch anti-nuclear campaigner, Lin will meet with Premier Yu Shyi-kun on March 17.

Lin will also lead a sit-down demonstration in front of the presidential official on May 19 to seek the government's support for a national referendum on the future of the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

The meeting with Yu will be the first time Lin has been able to discuss the matter directly with the government, following his sustained anti-nuclear efforts through his weekend marches nationwide.

Since Sept. 21 last year, Lin has led activists on a 1,000km march across the country to rally support for a national referendum on the future of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

He and his followers plan to march 20km every weekend for at least 50 weeks.

DPP lawmakers acknowledged yesterday that the party is under tremendous pressure from Lin, who is highly respected within the party and by pro-independence groups.

In a meeting on Wednesday, leaders of the Association for Promoting Public Voting on Nuke 4 (核四公投促進會) were disappointed after DPP officials disagreed with activists' proposals to hold a referendum on the future of the nuclear plant along with the presidential election in March next year.

DPP Deputy Secretary General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said the DPP has supported holding a plebiscite to determine the future of the plant, but a vote can't be held before the referendum law is enacted.

Cheng Hsian-you (鄭先祐), the convener of the anti-nuclear association, criticized the DPP as "weak and wavering" in the face of anti-nuclear issues.

The association argues that the referendum can be held under the auspices of natural law, that is, that the right to hold such a vote is "nature given" and requires no special legislation.

In October 2000, the government decided to halt construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant. But in the following January, it gave in to pressure from opposition parties and reversed its decision -- giving the go ahead to complete construction of the plant.

This flip-flop spawned criticism that the government was "weak and wavering."

Lee said the criticism was too harsh because the DPP has paid a high political price during the controversy.

He said the party supports a referendum law, as long as the law is not applied to sensitive issues related to national identity such as the national flag or the nation's official name.

In fact, Lee said, the Cabinet is drafting its version of a referendum law, which is to be applied on issues unrelated to sovereignty.

Cabinet officials said the government is making the law one of its top priorities, and it could be passed by the legislature before next year's presidential election.

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