Sun, Jan 04, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Nuclear poll would hurt Chen: blue camp

ABOUT-FACE The KMT-PFP alliance reversed its stance on another policy issue, this time attempting to distract voters from a referendum on the Chinese military threat


Members of the pan-blue Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) alliance on Friday dusted off a referendum proposal to stop construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, gathering enough support to raise the issue in the legislature.

The alliance's decision to allow discussion of the issue in the legislature was an about-face on its earlier position of neither initiating nor blocking referendum proposals concerning the disputed plant.

It had earlier opposed attempts by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration to halt construction of the half-finished facility, but yesterday decided to give the green light to discussing PFP Legislator Chiou Yi's (邱毅) call for a referendum on the issue.

KMT legislative whip Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) signed Chiou's motion on Friday, indicating KMT approval for discussion of the issue.

A dozen KMT lawmakers joined the motion, bringing the number of sponsors to 33, two more than the 31 needed to have the issue added to legislative business.

Chiou had raised the matter the previous week, but was dissuaded from pursuing it by members of both the KMT and the PFP.

Former DPP chairman and staunch anti-nuclear activist Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) on Saturday last week staged a sit-in in front of KMT headquarters to place pressure on the party.

Saying that Lin was barking up the wrong tree, the KMT said it was President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) who didn't want to see a referendum on the matter.

KMT legislators said the president has his hands full and would not like to see another referendum brought up at this time.

To expose what it has described as the DPP's "halfhearted support" for Lin's campaign, the pan-blue alliance is hoping the referendum process will force the DPP to show its hand.

A KMT political analyst said his party was quite sure that the public would support its opposition to stopping work on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in a referendum, and that such a referendum might boost the popularity of the KMT presidential candidate by 3 to 4 percent if it is held in tandem with the election.

The DPP would go all-out to prevent a referendum on the plant to prevent it upstaging the president's referendum question, the analyst said.

This would, at the least, press home to anti-nuclear activists who are mainly DPP sympathizers that the DPP was only paying lip service to their cause, the analyst said.

Chen is under pressure to placate the Bush administration, which is concerned about Chen's plan to hold a referendum on the Chinese military threat.

The president has used a clause in the Referendum Law (公投法) to call for a vote on the basis that Taiwan is under threat from external forces. Chen has repeatedly said that the nearly 500 missiles that China is allegedly aiming at Taiwan meet the necessary condition to call such a "defensive referendum."

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