Former DPP chairman slams gov’t over N-plant referendum

The China Post staff

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin Yi-hsiung yesterday went public to chastise the ruling party for aligning with its political foes against a proposed referendum on the construction of the 4th nuclear power plant. During Saturday’s founding of the Council for the Promotion of a Non-Nuclear Nation — an advocacy group aimed to obstruct the proliferation of nuclear power generation in the country, Lin called on the government to allow both the yea and nay-sayers a chance to brief the public about the pros and cons of this hotly debated issue. Lin said authorities should then leave it to the people to decide the fate of the half-built 4th nuclear power plant through a public vote. He then aimed criticism at his former colleagues in the DPP and said that anyone who is against the idea of a referendum on construction for the 4th nuclear power plant is unfit to be the country’s president, premier, or one of its lawmakers. The former DPP chairman pointed out that it is irrational for the ruling party to oppose a public vote even though it already ordered the resumption of construction of the nuclear power plant, earlier this year. He added that the DPP’s growing aversion towards a referendum actually showed the administration’s lack of understanding of the true spirit of democracy. Lin then retreated from his sharp tone and said that he believes that as a political entity that prides itself on the pursuit of democracy, the ruling party would heed the people’s wish in holding the proposed plebiscite. In response to the former DPP chairman’s public criticism aimed at the ruling party, Tsai Huang-lang, the DPP’s party whip at the Legislative Yuan, yesterday said he thought Lin was “a bit harsh” toward his old colleagues. Tsai pointed out that since there is no legal ground for the proposed plebiscite, it would not even have binding power should the people decide to go against the completion of construction for the 4th nuclear power plant. Tsai said that since the ruling party is a minority in the Legislature Yuan, those working under President Chen’s administration therefore would need to “look at the big picture” when making decisions on the controversial issue.

He then said that, last week, lawmakers in the ruling party all received a questionnaire designed to garner their opinions about the proposed referendum. Tsai said he expected all DPP legislators to turn in the survey on Tuesday and as soon as results are in they would be made public. On Saturday, echoing the former DPP chairman’s call for a referendum on the hotly debated public infrastructure project, representatives from several environmental groups, including the Taiwan Environment Protection Alliance and The Environment Protection Foundation of the Women’s Alliance, also threw their support behind such a public vote by the year’s end.