Sun, Mar 10, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Nuclear Power Debate: Ma offers to meet with anti-nuclear groups after rally

LENDING THEM AN EAR:The president cleared his schedule so as to be available to meet groups at the march yesterday, and offered future talks

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

The Presidential Office yesterday said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) respects the voice of anti-nuclear protesters and would be willing to meet with them to exchange ideas on the issue if the groups wanted.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Taipei and other cities around the nation yesterday to voice their opposition to the government’s plan to complete the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮).

In Taipei, the protesters gathered on Ketagalan Boulevard after the rally and staged an overnight protest in front of the Presidential Office to urge the government to abolish nuclear power.

Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) said Ma respected that the public voiced their concerns through the rally.

He had cleared his public events schedule yesterday and instructed the Presidential Office to prepare a meeting venue in case the anti-nuclear groups demanded a meeting with him, she added.

Lee said the Presidential Office plans to hold a series of public forums on nuclear power issues, and several anti-nuclear organizations have accepted invitations to take part in the forums and discuss nuclear policy.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said the city was fully prepared to ensure the safety of rally participants while keeping traffic in the surrounding areas flowing freely.

“The city government’s job is to ensure that the rally proceeds smoothly and allows participants to express their opinions,” he said.

He reiterated his view that the government should keep its promise of addressing public concerns about nuclear security by making information on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant more open and transparent, so that people have a comprehensive understanding of the issue before voting in the referendum.

New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), who proposed absentee voting in the nuclear referendum, applauded the rally as a demonstration of civic strength.

When asked whether he would join the protest, he said politicians should not participate to avoid politicizing the issue.

“The rally was initiated by civic groups and it demonstrates the power of the public … Political parties should stay out of the rally and politicians should not join the event, so that the public can demonstrate their power,” he said.

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