The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday criticized President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for his insistence on completing construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), saying that Ma has violated his pledge to seek a consensus on the issue.
“Ma has violated his pledge to seek a consensus with the opposition and has discredited Premier Jiang Yi-huah’s (江宜樺) plans to meet with opposition leaders to create a more friendly political climate less than 24 hours after Jiang’s extension of an olive branch [to opposition groups],” DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) was quoted as saying that Ma had reaffirmed his insistence on an additional budget allocation for the project and on the completion of construction at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, while leaving the question of whether the plant would become operational for deliberation in a meeting scheduled with KMT lawmakers on Wednesday night.
Su, who spoke to Jiang by telephone on Wednesday morning and praised the premier for his consensus-seeking efforts, said that Ma’s instructions “basically means that dialogue between the government and the opposition is unnecessary, and any expectations of a new approach and mentality by the new Cabinet are likely to be unmet.”
Ma’s instructions to the KMT caucus were “surprising and regrettable,” Su said.
The DPP called for the suspension of construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and insisted that no additional budget should be allocated to the project, which has cost billions of New Taiwan dollars, with doubts raised over safety concerns caused by alleged poor-quality construction.
“We strongly oppose Ma’s policy and advise the president not to underestimate the determination of Taiwanese for a nuclear-free homeland. The DPP’s position is in line with mainstream public opinion, which opposes the construction [of the plant] and the additional budget allocation. This position will not change,” Su said.
The KMT caucus said that former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) supported the option of finishing construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, but suspending the plant’s operations when she served as DPP chairperson.
Responding to the issue, Tsai said in Keelung that she did not understand why Ma has refused to listen to the public’s voice and has always demanded that KMT lawmakers carry out his instructions.
Early last week, Alex Huang (黃重諺), a spokesperson from Tsai’s office, admitted that Tsai had changed her views on the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant since serving as vice premier between 2007 and 2008.
During this time she was forced to support the allocation of additional budget to the project due to pressure from the KMT, which had a legislative majority, and concerns over a potential breach of contract if construction was suspended.
The situation regarding the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and public awareness of nuclear safety had also changed dramatically, the spokesperson added, since Tsai first made her position on the issue public in the DPP’s 10-year policy guidelines. These insisted on non-operation of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and on phasing out the nation’s other three operational nuclear power plants, but did not state whether the party supported completing construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
When referencing a changing situation, Huang was referring to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident in Japan and safety issues raised by former Fourth Nuclear Power Plant Safety Monitoring Committee member Lin Tsung-yao (林宗堯), who resigned his post in late 2011.