Public urged to tell legislature not to support referendum

By Chen Yen-ting and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sat, Jul 27, 2013 - Page 3

Several environmental groups yesterday criticized President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, saying it was hiding facts from the public and abusing government resources. The groups urged the public tell the Legislative Yuan not to approve the proposed referendum on the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

Shortly after taking office, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said a public referendum would be held to resolve the question of what do with the plant, which is still under construction.

If the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) referendum proposal is approved by the legislature, which will hold a second extra session starting on Tuesday, voters will be asked: “Do you agree that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be halted and that it not become operational?”

The KMT’s question was politically calculated and tramples over the concepts of direct democracy and responsible politics, because if it fails, the Ma administration would have legitimate grounds to continue the construction of the plant, Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Tsuei Su-hsin (崔愫欣) said.

Tsuei said there were three problems with the KMT’s proposed question. The first was why both the supporting and the opposing parties in the referendum — the legislature and the Executive Yuan — were both governmental agencies that support construction of the plant.

A lack of official information on the plant and the rationale behind the government’s refusal to allow international nuclear experts to inspection the plant were difficult to understand, she said.

The government’s silence on the shortcomings of nuclear energy, even as it uses administrative resources to promote nuclear energy, also raises questions, Tsuei said.

The government’s warning that stopping construction of the plant would hurt the economy was also questionable, given the lack of verifiable data, she said.

The lack of information is unfair to the public, on whom the burden of deciding whether to halt or continue construction of the plant lays, Tsuei said.

Meanwhile, Yang Shun-mei (楊舜美) a representative of Mom Loves Taiwan, an association of mothers against nuclear power, said the Ma administration has long kept vital information about the plant under wraps.

The public is in the dark on actual overhead costs for nuclear energy generation and waste disposal, as well as the geological condition of the plant site, Yang said, adding no basis has been given for the government’s claims that Taiwan would face electricity shortages if the plant did not go into operation.

Citizens of the Earth Taiwan president Liao Pen-chuan (廖本全) said the power of a referendum is that it is a symbol of direct democracy and it should not become a tool of political manipulation for those in power.

The fact that such a thing is about to happen right before our eyes in the legislature will be a test of the maturity of Taiwan’s democracy, Liao said.

Liao said the public should stand up and remind the legislators just who voted them into office and ask them not to approve the referendum proposal.