Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday defended his suggestion that the dispute over the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be resolved through opinion polls instead of a national referendum, saying a referendum would be costly in terms of time and government resources.
Hau denied telling Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) during a meeting on Monday night that the government should scrap its plan to seek a public consensus on the issue through a referendum, but said both central and local governments should conduct polls to understand public opinion on the issue.
“Preparations for a referendum on the nuclear power plant will take a long time and disputes over the issue will continue during the process. If it takes too long, the operation of the government and the nation will be affected,” Hau said during an inspection of the Feitsui Reservoir (翡翠水庫).
Hau, New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Keelung Mayor Chang Tong-rong (張通榮), whose cities fall in the so-called “evacuation zone” around the plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮), met with Jiang on Monday to discuss nuclear power issues.
Jiang, who proposed holding a referendum on the plant, organized the meeting with the mayors to foster unity among influential party members to defend the construction of the plant.
However, Hau continued to voice his opposition to the plant.
Hau yesterday declined to say whether he opposed Jiang’s referendum proposal.
The mayor said the Executive Yuan should ask Taiwan Power Co and the Atomic Energy Council to provide transparent information on the issue, while inviting foreign organizations to conduct assessments on the safety of the power plant as a reference.
“In the meantime, [opinion polls] can help us understand public opinion clearly and determine whether construction of the power plant should continue or not, so that social disputes can be resolved sooner,” he said.
Hau said the Taipei City Government would conduct regular polls on the issue to understand public opinion.