Thu, Jun 06, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Bicyclists start referendum drive

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Former premier Frank Hsieh, second right, attends a press conference in front of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday to call on the public to support an anti-nuclear campaign that is sponsoring a bike trip around Taiwan.

Photo: CNA

Several civic groups yesterday announced the launch of a round-the-island bicycle trip to encourage people to sign a petition for a second referendum question about the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators, backed by the government, have already proposed that a referendum be held on the plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮).

However, the Taiwan Anti-Nuclear Action Association, an umbrella organization put together by the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) for more than two dozen groups, including civic groups and some local branches of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said it is trying to collect 100,000 signatures backing an alternative question.

The union said the KMT lawmakers’ proposed question — “Do you agree that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be halted and that it not become operational?” — will most likely fail due to insufficient votes, because the Referendum Act (公民投票法) requires a voter turnout of at least 50 percent.

That means about 9.15 million votes are needed for a referendum to be considered valid, and of those who voted, at least 50 percent must vote “yes” to the question for it to be passed.

Kao Cheng-yan (高成炎), a National Taiwan University professor and TEPU member, said the bicyclists taking part in the “Bike for Taiwan, Vote for Hope” campaign would depart from the Legislative Yuan yesterday and are to return on June 18.

The bicyclists would hold information sessions at train stations, at temples, night markets and other public areas to explain their anti-nuclear message and the petition for an alternative question.

The alternative question is: “Do you agree that fuel rods should be installed into the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and that it be allowed to go into test operation?”

“Compared with the media coverage of the president’s inspection tour of the nation’s power plants last week, our campaign may be small, but if he goes on one trip, we [civic groups] go on 10 or 100 ones; he spends one night on a trip, we will spend a week or a month. We believe public opinion will still win at the end,” former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said.

The association said it hopes to collect the necessary signatures to submit its petition to have their referendum question asked along with the KMT lawmakers’ version.

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