The government holding a referendum that complies with the Referendum Act (公民投票法) is either a political ploy or a prank on the people, former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) wrote in an article about the Cabinet’s initiative to hold a referendum on the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮).
“Unfortunately, the Executive Yuan’s referendum proposal was full of political calculations. It was a cheap trick and a prank that plays the public for fools,” wrote Lin, who has been a staunch anti-nuclear power activist for the past two decades.
The article was published late on Friday on the Web site of former DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) Thinking Taiwan Foundation.
The Referendum Act, which was enacted in 2003, laid down “unreasonable and strict” regulations that made the passage of referendums “almost impossible,” he said.
The act requires that a referendum have an electorate turnout of at least 50 percent and be approved by 51 percent of voters to be valid, stipulations that have been described as a “double 50 percent shield.”
These restrictions are why only the president, the KMT and the DPP have been able to submit a referendum proposal over the past decade and also why none of these proposals have passed, he added.
Lin said that what the Executive Yuan should do is immediately suspend construction of the power plant, or, at the very least, have the integrity to phrase the referendum so it asks the people if they support the plant’s construction, instead of its suspension.
The Executive Yuan is obviously trying to take advantage of the act’s restrictions by making the position it does not support the question it puts to the people, knowing that the referendum will likely fail, the DPP heavyweight said.
“It is unnecessary for the Executive Yuan to ask the people if they support suspending the project since the Executive Yuan has no intention of stopping the construction,” Lin said.
It is “common sense” that Taiwan would not able to withstand a nuclear disaster like the one at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011, the former DPP chairman said.