A meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee yesterday to hear a report by the Atomic Energy Council on comprehensive safety checks at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) was postponed after legislators quarreled over whether members of the public should be allowed to attend the meeting.
The committee chair for the session, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君), had invited Gongliao residents and members of anti-nuclear energy groups to attend the session, but the move drew objections from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Shu-hui (陳淑慧) and Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉).
Fearing a repeat of an incident involving National Tsing Hua University student Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), a co-convener of the Youth Alliance Against Media Monsters — who attended a committee meeting earlier this month and caused controversy by using strong language while addressing Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) — Chen Shu-hui stepped up to the inquiry podium at the beginning of the meeting and asked the committee chair to vet the participants before opening the meeting.
Chen Shu-hui’s request prompted DPP legislators to question the constitutionality of identifying the participants and the dispute devolved into a quarrel between KMT and DPP legislators, culminating with Chen Shu-hui and DPP Legislator Ho Hsin-chun (何欣純) shouting loudly at each another and banging on the podium.
“None of us legislators want to see these incidences of violence in the committee” and “We only want to know who these participants are,” Chen Shu-hui shouted as he was surrounded by several legislators from both parties, adding that the meeting should not be allowed to proceed.
Cheng said the members of the public were only registered to listen to the meeting and will not speak at the podium, and stressed that the Legislative Yuan should not seal itself from the public, which would be a setback of democracy.
After the meeting was suspended, one of the participants from the civic sector, Yenliao Anti-Nuclear Self-Help Association secretary-general Yang Mu-huo (楊木火), asked if it was possible for those who live near the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant to be present when matters directly affecting their livelihoods and health are discussed.
“Can’t we even listen to the meeting?” Yang asked.