Referendum in accordance with law: Executive Yuan

TWO SIDES::Ma said that in discussing the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, the public’s well-being as well as economic implications must be taken into consideration

Staff writer, with CNA

Sun, Mar 17, 2013 - Page 3

The Executive Yuan yesterday dismissed allegations made by some lawmakers that the premier is violating the Referendum Act (公民投票法) by commissioning another organization or group to conduct the referendum to decide the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市).

Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君), Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) and Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) submitted a complaint over the matter a few days ago to the Control Yuan, the branch of government that monitors the behavior of public agencies and civil servants.

However, in a written report to the legislature, Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) said that the referendum proposal was initiated by lawmakers, not the Cabinet.

The Cabinet did not propose a nuclear power plant referendum, nor did it commission any other body to carry out said referendum, he said.

The Referendum Act prohibits any government administrative body from carrying out a referendum on any matter, or commission any other organization to do so, Chen Wei-zen said.

Chen Wei-zen is scheduled to deliver a briefing at the Legislative Yuan tomorrow on the Referendum Act’s regulations on absentee voting and the administration’s role in carrying out a referendum.

Earlier this month, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus said it had completed a draft motion to put the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant issue to a national referendum.

The move came after new Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) last month said he would be willing to see the dispute settled once and for all by a referendum.

However, opposition lawmakers have contended that it is the Cabinet that is pushing the referendum and that it has commissioned KMT lawmakers to implement it.

Separately yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said that to ensure nuclear safety, the government should provide information to the public so voters can make a decision whether construction of the power plant should be halted.

Ma, who is also KMT chairman, said at a KMT forum that the government is striving to achieve the goal of “ensuring nuclear safety, steadily reducing nuclear power generation, building a “green,” low-carbon environment and moving toward a nuclear-free homeland.”

The nation is facing two options: “steadily reducing nuclear generation” or “immediately halting the operations of the existing three operational nuclear power plants and construction of the fourth plant,” Ma said.

The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project and nuclear safety are problems affecting everyone, he said.

Because of the public’s divergent views on the issue, the Legislative Yuan has proposed a referendum to let people decide whether construction of the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be halted, he said.

“The government should ensure nuclear safety,” Ma said, adding the fourth nuclear power plant will not be put into operation until its safety can be guaranteed.

The government should also take into account the impact of stopping construction of the plant, which is near completion, Ma said.

The people’s well-being and economic implications should be considered equally, and the public should be given sufficient statistical information to make a decision on the nuclear issue, he added.