Chen defends government on nuclear plant

The China Post staff

President Chen Shui-bian yesterday defended the government’s handling of the fourth nuclear power plant project, saying there have been no political considerations in the government’s handling of the issue. Chen was quoted by Presidential Office Secretary-general Yu Shyi-kun as saying so after Chen’s meeting with New Party members yesterday. Yu dismissed as unfair criticism that ideological concerns have outweighed professional thinking in the government’s handling of the controversial issue. “That whether the project should be canceled is an issue that deserves professional thinking, not political considerations, which means the (Democratic Progressive Party’s) platform will have no role in the final decision,” said Yu. The DPP’s party platform clearly opposes the use of nuclear power as a source of energy. Unlike the Kuomintang government, President Chen has offered people a different way of thinking in treating the issue, said Yu.

Yu pointed to the U.S. as an example. The U.S. government closed its operating nuclear plant and halted the construction of a new plant because it had no idea about how to deal with the nuclear waste years ago, he said. Even though a safer solution to treat nuclear waste is already available, the U.S. government has not regretted its previous decision because it has found other alternatives, Yu added. President Chen promised yesterday that the government would deliver a final decision by the end of December on whether to continue or cancel the project, according to Lai Shyh-bao, New Party convener. Lai said he requested Chen promise that the government’s debt will not increase because of the president’s pledge not to hike taxes during his current four-year tenure, but was turned down. The nation’s top economic planner Chen Po-chih, chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, reiterated yesterday that the nation will not face a power shortage with or without the fourth nuclear power plant. “A promise is a promise,” he said, referring to President Chen’s assurances last week that the government will work to provide a stable investment environment that will not face shortages of water, electricity or labor. The official added that the government is planning to begin construction on new power generating plants earlier than first expected. The plants were initially slated to start after 2010.