Sun, Mar 24, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Hau’s nuclear comments spark concern

DIVIDED WE RULE?After the mayor of Taipei said he would vote to halt work on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, the KMT faces a fight to stay united on the issue

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Students unfurl a huge anti-nuclear banner on the campus of Tainan Community University in Greater Tainan yesterday. The banner was used at a March 9 anti-nuclear demonstration.

Photo: Hung Juei-chin, Taipei Times

As Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) open opposition to the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) cast doubt on the stance of those in the pan-blue camp on nuclear issues, New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday said that he will meet with Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) next week to discuss the issue of nuclear power.

Chu, who heads the municipality where three of the nation’s nuclear power plants are located, has proposed absentee voting in the nuclear referendum, and accompanied President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on a visit to a company in the city yesterday morning.

Chu said that he and Jiang regularly exchange views about the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and said he will meet with the premier next week to continue their discussions.

The Ma administration’s proposal to hold a national referendum on whether to halt construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant has been met with mounting criticism, not only from the opposition, but also from large swaths of the public who expressed their concerns over nuclear power during a number of recent anti-nuclear rallies held across the nation.

Hau’s open opposition to continuing construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant has thrown the spotlight onto other pan-blue figures’ stances on the issue.

Chu yesterday dismissed Hau’s latest comments that he would vote to support suspension of construction of the plant if the referendum was held immediately, and said the real question should be whether the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant can operate safely.

“It is meaningless to talk about hypothetical questions because the referendum is not being held now. People are worried about the safety of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, and the referendum would be unnecessary if the plant is not considered as safe,” he said.

When questioned by reporters, Chu refused to comment on whether he supported the suspension of construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and insisted that the government should provide open and transparent information on the safety of the power plant to the public.

Hau is the first local government leader from the pan-blue camp to declare his stance on the nuclear issue by saying on Thursday that he would vote “yes” in a national referendum asking voters if construction and operation of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be halted.

His announcement prompted Ma to call him on Thursday night to discuss his stance on the issue. The president also met Hau on Friday evening at the Presidential Office to continue their discussions.

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