Mon, Mar 04, 2013 - Page 3 News List

DPP to challenge power plant vote

LOWERING THE BAR:The party said it wanted to lower the threshold for referendums ahead of the Cabinet’s proposed referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen calls on everyone to campaign for a non-nuclear homeland during a speech at the launch of a support group for Tsai in New Taipei City yesterday.

Photo: Lai Hsiao-tong, Taipei Times

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) says it is planning to propose an amendment to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to lower the threshold it sets for passing referendums, 10 days after Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) unexpectedly announced plans to put the continuation of construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant to a popular vote.

Over the past week, the party has been unable to present a unified front on the proposal to ask voters if they support suspending construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市).

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday echoed a DPP-wide call for lowering the threshold for national referendums, saying that the passage of a referendum should be decided by simple plurality.

The current laws on referendums require a voter turnout of at least 50 percent and a majority of 51 percent for the motion to be aproved, a threshold the DPP said was too high.

In response to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) contention that Tsai supported the plant’s construction when she served as vice premier, the former DPP chairperson said the KMT was manipulating past events to fit its own purposes.

Tsai, who served as vice premier between 2006 and 2007, said the then-DPP Cabinet’s approval of the nuclear energy plant’s construction was based on Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) pledge to finish construction within the year.

After the approval was given, there were repeated accidents, construction delays, requests for additional budget allocations and the construction was never completed, she said.

At present, the public’s lack of confidence in Taipower and the government, coupled with the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan two years ago “have completely changed the Taiwanese people’s views on nuclear energy.”

Tsai accused the KMT of handling the issue as a political maneuver, rather than treating it as an energy policy issue that affects people’s lives and public safety.

DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) is set to attend a DPP legislative caucus meeting today in the Legislative Yuan where the opposition party will try to formulate its final strategy on the matter.

DPP caucus converner Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that the controversy over the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant has created “the most serious social division in recent memory, which is made more complex because it involves political rivalries and energy policy.”

Meanwhile, the DPP is ready to offer whatever support it can in the upcoming anti-nuclear energy demonstrations slated to be held simultaneously in Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Taitung on Saturday.

However, the DPP pledged to keep a low profile in the protests and would not send politicians to address the crowds. The rallies are being organized by anti-nuclear civic groups and are expected to draw at least 50,000 participants.

The civic groups launched the first “warm-up” demonstration yesterday in Jinshan (金山) District, New Taipei City, which is sandwiched between Shihmen (石門) and Wanli (萬里) districts, where the Jinshan and Guosheng nuclear power plants are located.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched in the street to protest in front of the two nuclear power plants, demanding that all three active plants suspend operations and that construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant be stopped immediately.

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