Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers were sharply divided yesterday on whether to proceed with a proposal to authorize a referendum on the fate of the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮).
A second extra legislative session ended yesterday with the KMT-proposed referendum initiative stalled, much against the wishes of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who had instructed party lawmakers to ensure the proposal’s passage.
KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said yesterday his caucus “did not rule out calling a third extra session” to push through the referendum proposal before Sept. 1, the day lawmakers register for a new formal legislative session.
Signatures collected from caucus members at a caucus meeting yesterday morning were sufficient to present a motion for an extra session, but “we have not yet decided,” Lin said.
At the KMT caucus meeting, held behind closed doors, a suggestion was made that the government announce a halt to the construction of the plant, KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) confirmed.
“The idea did not raise a discussion,” she added.
There was another suggestion that the government announce the continued construction of the plant as a response to the opposition’s boycott of the proposed referendum, Lo said.
Most lawmakers present at the meeting said that there was no need to call a third extra session if it would end up like the second extra session, she said.
A scheduled vote on the proposed referendum was blocked when opposition lawmakers occupied the speaker’s podium in a boycott that lasted for five days.
The proposed referendum question is: “Do you agree that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be halted and that it not become operational (你是否同意核四廠停止興建不得運轉)?”
KMT Legislator Liao Cheng--ching (廖正井) said he was opposed to a referendum on the plant being held before safety tests, which are still ongoing, are completed.
A referendum can only be held after the tests ensure the plant is safe, Liao said, adding that the government was partly to blame for the situation.
At a meeting on Wednesday last week, on the eve of the second extra session, KMT lawmakers agreed to vote for the proposed referendum, Lin said.
The issue was then encumbered by the disclosure of a report on safety issues at the plant by Fourth Nuclear Power Plant security inspector Lin Tsung-yao (林宗堯) and the government’s handling of the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), he said.