Environmental groups criticized the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday for its “politically motivated” initiative of combining a proposed anti-nuclear energy referendum with local elections next year.
The criticism was directed at DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who said on Monday that the party fully supported the proposed referendum in New Taipei City (新北市) and recommended combining the referendum with local elections.
“It was a brain-dead initiative. What Su and DPP legislators should do is freeze the budget for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant [in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮)],” said Iap Phok-bun (葉博文), executive director of the Nuke-4 Referendum Initiative Association.
Elections should be the last thing on the DPP’s mind because the most important task now is guaranteeing public safety by halting the construction of the plant and boycotting the proposed budget increase, Iap said.
Lee Cho-han (李卓翰), executive director of the Nuclear-free Homeland Alliance, said on Monday night that the DPP “showed its lack of respect for anti-nuclear groups by its unilateral announcement of the initiative without prior consultation.”
The anti-nuclear movement is a civic one, Lee said, adding that while politicians are welcome to join the cause and make recommendations, they should not only be thinking about “reaping benefits” from the cause.
The referendum proposal, initiated by former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), aims to stop the construction of the nuclear power plant in Gongliao and is still in its signature collection phase.
However, on Monday Lu said her office would postpone the scheduled date of Feb. 1 to submit the referendum proposal “under Su’s instruction.”
In Greater Taichung yesterday, Su appeared to sidestep the issue, saying that the DPP has always supported the anti-nuclear movement and that the initiative “was not related to elections.”
“We will discuss with civic groups the best time to submit the referendum proposal,” Su said.
DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the referendum would likely garner stronger support with the backing of a political party, but the DPP should continue to communicate with environmental groups.
A DPP politician, who wished to remain anonymous because he did not want to be seen directly criticizing Su, said the initiative could inevitably turn the anti-nuclear energy issue — which has obtained a high degree of consensus among the people — into a political war between the DPP and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Meanwhile, the KMT yesterday dismissed the DPP referendum proposal as a non-issue, slamming the DPP for using the nuclear energy issue for political purposes.
KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) said the DPP should propose holding the referendum this year if it is serious about the issue. Seeking to combine the referendum and local elections shows that the DPP has abused the issue for political gain.
As the DPP steps up efforts to promote its policy of building a “nuclear-free homeland” and attack the KMT over its nuclear policy, KMT Secretary-General Chan Chun-po (詹春柏) is presiding over a task force to address issues raised by the DPP.
Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih