Thu, Apr 17, 2014 - Page 3 News List

DPP plans new law to resolve nuclear dispute

SIMPLE MAJORITY:The party is proposing a statute that will make it easier to vote on whether the nation should continue building a new nuclear power plant

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang, center, and other party officials yesterday pledge to propose a draft bill for a referendum on the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday said it plans to propose a special statute that will pave the way for a national referendum to resolve the decades-long controversy over the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮).

DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced the plan at a press conference after it was approved at the party’s weekly Central Standing Committee meeting, saying that stopping the construction of the plant has always been a party goal.

“A nuclear-free homeland has always been part of the DPP charter and our position remains unchanged,” Su said, adding that the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan has only added urgency to achieving this goal.

The DPP’s legislative caucus is to propose a special statute calling for a referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四公投特別條例) to bypass the Referendum Act (公投法), which has been described as a “birdcage act” with its high threshold and perceived unfair regulations.

The proposal would change the threshold to a simple majority. Current regulations require the participation of 50 percent of eligible voters, half of whom must cast a “yes” vote for the referendum to pass.

The special statute would also require that the referendum question be simple, asking voters whether they support or oppose the plant’s construction, Su said, adding that previous proposals on the matter had a clear political agenda.

A referendum question proposed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers last year asks: “Do you agree that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be halted and that it should not become operational (你是否同意核四廠停止興建不得運轉)?”

Given the current high threshold, the referendum is unlikely to pass, thus rendering the government’s plan to put the plant into operation legitimate, critics have said.

The DPP would also demand that the referendum be held by the end of this year, Su said.

He said the DPP initiative was made in response to former DPP chairman Lin Yi-xiong (林義雄), who announced on Tuesday that he is to go on an indefinite hunger strike on Tuesday next week to urge the government to halt construction of the power plant.

Lin also called on society to make whatever effort necessary to warn President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration against defying mainstream public opinion.

In addition, the DPP will organize anti-nuclear mass rallies across the country and ask all candidates in the seven-in-one elections to include the anti-nuclear campaign in their platform, Su said.

Separately, Su proposed a provisional party platform initiative in response to society’s demand for “new politics” following the just-concluded Sunflower movement.

The three-stage plan, which was approved by the Central Standing Committee, calls on the party to gather opinions from a wide range of people and organizations by the end of this month before engaging in extensive discussions and formulating feasible plans next month.

The final stage would be a task for the next DPP chairman, who will be selected in the chairmanship election next month.

Su has said he is not seeking re-election as chairman.

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