Sat, Sep 27, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Legislators pressed to pass plebiscite law

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Chen Chien-ming joins a signature drive asking for a referendum on the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant. An alliance of activist groups pushing for the referendum set up a stand in front of the Legislative Yuan yesterday to promote the signature drive. It plans to run the stand at the same spot every Tuesday and Friday.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Despite public pressure for a referendum on the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, a survey released by environmental groups yesterday showed that less than half of the legislators have promised to help pass a proposed referendum law drafted by the Cabinet.

For years, anti-nuclear activists have urged the government to establish a referendum law as the legal basis for carrying out a national referendum to decide the future of the power plant. The plant is now under construction and scheduled to begin commercial operation in July 2006.

Since the middle of August, an agreement to pass the nation's first referendum law in the current session has been distributed to all legislators. But as of yesterday, only 105 out of 223 legislators had signed their names to express their support for the new law.

All 88 Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators have signed on, as have 10 Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmakers.

However, the survey shows that lawmakers from the pan-blue camp are reluctant to pass the new law. So far, there have been only three Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators and two People First Party (PFP) legislators who signed their names to the agreement. Those five account for only 5 percent of the combined KMT and PFP caucuses.

Only two independent lawmakers have shown their support for a referendum law.

"We strongly urge all political caucuses to respect public opinion," Shih Shin-min (施信民), one of founders of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (台灣環保聯盟), said at a press conference held yesterday in front of the legislature.

Anti-nuclear activists from dozens of environmental groups yesterday set up stalls in front of the Legislative Yuan urging people to sign their names to show their support. Activists said that they hoped that such a public show of support for a plebiscite would push non-committal legislators to change their minds.

Beginning yesterday, stalls for people to sign became available regularly in front of the Legislative Yuan every Tuesday and Friday.

Activists said they hoped that pan-blue and independent lawmakers would show their love for Taiwan by signing on to the agreement in the legislature.

Several DPP legislators yesterday were standing with the activists in front of the Legislative Yuan.

"Many colleagues from the KMT and PFP caucuses expressed their willingness in the last session to pass the referendum law. Why are they now reluctant to make a promise in the survey?" DPP Legislator Lai Chin-lin (賴勁麟) asked.

DPP Legislator Parris Chang (張旭成) said that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be scrapped for many reasons, including national security.

"It would become an ideal target for missiles from China, which would threaten people's lives and property," Chang said.

DPP Legislator Cheng Kuo-chung (鄭國忠) saidthe environmental impact assessment for the palnt was handled sloppily by the government in the early 1990s and construction should be halted.

A national referendum would be necessary in order to achieve that goal, he said.

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