Despite calls to amend the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to hold a vote on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said the government could not change the plebiscite process because of one issue, adding that halting the construction of the plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) would cause the stock market to plummet.
Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) began a hunger strike on Tuesday at Taipei’s Gikong Presbyterian Church to demand that the government halt the construction of the plant. The DPP has rallied behind Lin on the issue, reaffirming its anti-nuclear stance as it renewed calls for a nuclear referendum.
The plant was planned during the tail end of the oil crises of the 1970s to diversify the nation’s energy sources, but the project was then suspended following the Chernobyl incident in 1986.
The project’s funding was unfrozen in 1992 and building began in 1999, only to be suspended for 110 days under the then-DPP government in 2000, costing operator Taiwan Power Co NT$3.4 billion (US$112 million at current rates).
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) told Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) that the Legislative Yuan could halt construction if Jiang makes a proposal to do so and sends it to the legislature for review.
Jiang rejected the suggestion, saying that even if the issue could be resolved by an administrative department giving a report, he believed the public as a whole would not accept such a resolution.
According to KMT sources, similar suggestions were made at the party’s Central Committee meeting on Tuesday, but Ma did not respond to them directly.
Additional reporting by Wang Wen-hsuan, Tseng Wei-chen, Su Fang-ho and Chen Yen-ting