Mom Loves Taiwan founder Irene Chen (陳藹玲) yesterday accused the government of lacking a well-structured energy policy, saying that for that reason, the result of a referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant — whatever it is — could lead to a disaster.
Chen said that after speaking with people of various backgrounds, she came to the conclusion that there is no easy solution for the controversy on whether the plant, located in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao Dictrict (貢寮), should be completed and begin commercial operation “because the government does not have an energy policy,” even though the government has proposed to solve the dispute with a referendum.
“The way the Referendum Act (公民投票法) is designed, we could have 7 million voters vote in the referendum, with 6 million voting in favor of a halt to construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, but the government can continue with the construction, since the number of voters did not cross the threshold,” Chen said. “In that case, the country could fall into chaos because those 6 million people would be very upset.”
According to the law, at least 9 million people, or 50 percent of the 18 million voters who voted in the last presidential election, must vote in a referendum for it to be valid. In addition, among those who have voted, an option must garner at least 50 percent of the vote to pass.
There could still be a problem even if 9 million people were to vote in favor of stopping the construction, Chen said.
“If 9 million people voted to stop the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, what good would it do if the government is not prepared to handle the situation? If the government still responds to the outcome by raising electricity prices or restricting power supply, people would get mad, and blame each other [for the inconvenience],” Chen said. “It’s a disaster for the country either way because the government lacks an energy policy.”
While the government says that nuclear energy is clean and could help cut carbon emissions, Chen disagrees.
“Taiwan ranks eighth on the list of countries with the fastest growth in carbon emissions in the past two decades,” she said. “Are you going to tell me it’s because we didn’t have nuclear power plants? Of course not, we have had three nuclear power plants running for the past two decades, but carbon emissions are still growing quickly in Taiwan.”
Chen went on to say that the government usually makes its decisions unilaterally, without allowing public discussion before they are made.
“Public discussion about a policy usually comes after a policy is announced, and the discussion is usually done through the media,” Chen said. “This is really a bad policymaking process for a democracy.”
Asked if her husband, Fubon Financial Holding Co chairman Daniel Tsai (蔡明忠), opposed her involvement in the anti-nuclear movement, Chen said that while government officials have expressed their “concerns” in private to her husband, “he never opposes what I do because he believes he should respect my freedom of expression.”