Tue, Mar 18, 2003 - Page 2 News List

DPP eyes referendum-law initiative

TAKING ACTION Following pressure from a former DPP chairman over the issue of the Fourth Nuclear Power plant, officials are keen to start plebiscite plans

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

The DPP's legislative caucus agreed yesterday that issues concerning public policies, such as the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project, could be determined by a public referendum.

The ruling party issued a press release yesterday under mounting pressure from former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄). Lin led a group of anti-nuclear activists to a protest in front of the Executive Yuan, demanding the employment of a plebiscite to decide the future of the controversial power plant in Taipei County.

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

The DPP caucus leaders said that voting is a fundamental right of the people, but it will require cross-party negotiation on the application of such a law before it could be presented to the legislature.

Given the highly contentious nature of the power plant, the DPP supports the idea of a referendum determining the future of the plant's construction based on the referendum law. In this way, the procedure and legality of the referendum could be clearly regulated.

Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), a DPP legislative caucus leader, said that he would suggest limiting the situations in which a referendum could be applied to highly controversial public constructions and other important projects affecting people's lives.

In contrast to the DPP's more conservative position, the TSU vowed to push for a referendum law that can be applied to all issues, including politically sensitive subjects related to national identity.

The TSU's meeting of central executives reached an agreement that the TSU will propose a draft next Monday, calling for cross-party support in order to "return the people's rights to the people."

TSU lawmaker Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) said that a referendum law is one of the rights bestowed by the Constitution.

He said people have the right to express their opinions on any issue related to their lives and this includes political issues.

The TSU's initiative has won endorsement from Chai Trong Chai (蔡同榮), the DPP legislator who is the most committed to passing a referendum law. The initiative has not been endorsed by the DPP legislative caucus.

Chen Chi-mai said his caucus has not yet decided on where it stands in regard to the TSU's scheme, adding that the details of the law would be discussed by the legislative committee once it passed the first reading.

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