The appeal that a referendum be held for New Taipei City (新北市) residents to determine the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮) could be thwarted because the Executive Yuan does not favor the proposal.
The Cabinet prefers a national referendum over a local one because continuing construction of the controversial plant would impact the nation’s economic competitiveness and electricity supplies, spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) told a press conference yesterday.
According to the Referendum Act (公民投票法), the Executive Yuan’s Referendum Review Committee has the mandate to decide whether an issue that the public wants a referendum on should be a national referendum or a local one, not the Executive Yuan, Cheng said.
“Now the request is pending with the Referendum Review Committee, but the Executive Yuan considers it more appropriate that a referendum on the plant be held on the national level rather than the local level,” she said.
Her comments appear to contradict those of Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Wei-jen (陳威仁), who told lawmakers on Wednesday last week that the Executive Yuan would decide on the proposed referendum request in a month.
Article 38 of the act says that a decision of a city or a county should be reported to the Executive Yuan for ratification and that the Executive Yuan should leave the up to the Referendum Review Committee when it has doubts about an issue.
The Executive Yuan has given approval to two local referendums, one on June 17, 2009, for residents of Penghu and one on Oct. 24, 2011, for residents of Matsu. Both referendums asked whether the residents wanted to allow casino resorts to be built in their county.
Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) initiated the proposed referendum for New Taipei City, which would ask: “Do you agree that fuel rods should be placed in the reactors at Taiwan Power Co’s Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City?”
Lu collected the 51,000 signatures needed to submit the proposal, which the city’s referendum review committee reviewed and passed.
The New Taipei City Government sent the referendum proposal to the Executive Yuan for ratification on April 16.
Lu has vowed to seek a constitutional interpretation from the Council of Grand Justices if the proposal is turned down.