Sun, Apr 07, 2013 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Hau on why opinion polls better than a referendum

Following his proposal to let the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District be decided by a public opinion poll, instead of through a national referendum, as suggested by President Ma Ying-jeou’s administration, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, in a recent interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (the sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) reporter Tzou Jiing-wen, called on the government to put a halt to the power plant’s construction should a majority of the public continue to lean toward suspending the project

LT: Since completing the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is a policy endorsed by the Ma government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), you must be under a lot of pressure. How are you holding up?

Hau: Having a bit of a background in science, I know that every step in the scientific method must be carried out with extreme caution to ensure the accuracy of an experiment’s results.

Because my past academic research has focused largely on the use of radiation for food preservation, I believe that — under strict supervision — radiation can be applied safely in many areas of everyday life. Therefore, I have always been a stalwart supporter of using radiation for purposes such as the generation of electricity.

However, in light of the escalating controversy over nuclear energy and the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, I conducted further research into the matter and have not yet read any information that convinces me that the plant is safe. I have doubts about the safety of nuclear energy as a whole, as does the majority of the public.

There are people criticizing me over what they say is my about-face on nuclear power, but the power plant did not pose such a safety hazard when I threw my support behind it as it does today.

As a supporter of applied radiation, my core guiding principle for nuclear power is to ensure it can be used safely. Without guranteed safety, we do should not use nuclear energy, and that doesn’t have any bearing on party policies or that of the government’s.

LT: Your actions have been interpreted by some as a bid to accrue more power. What is your opinion on this?

Hau: However I react [to the nuclear energy controversy], all my moves would be considered to be politically motivated. All I can do is act on what I believe, say what I think and not let the voices of others change that.

The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project is a matter of people’s livelihoods, not a matter of politics.

I hope that when people deliberate on issues pertaining to the plant, they can rise above political considerations and do not let their affiliations cloud their judgement.

When looking at the issue, we must take into account whether the power plant, as a public facility, is safe enough and whether the people trust those who operate it, because letting the matter turn into a pretext for political parties to mobilize sectors of society would be a setback in the development of the nation’s democracy.

Translated by staff writer Stacy Hsu

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