Legislature to launch probe in nuclear plant allegations

The China Post staff

The Legislature has decided to launch a probe into a scandal over the construction of Taiwan’s fourth nuclear power plant in which several lawmakers have been allegedly involved. In a move to quell public suspicions, and to appease feuding lawmakers, the Legislature yesterday adopted an opposition proposal to send the case for an investigation by the disciplinary committee. Five lawmakers are targeted in the probe: the People First Party’s Chiu Yi; the Taiwan Solidarity Union’s Su Ying-kuei; and the Democratic Progressive Party’s Cheng Chao-ming, Huang Hsu Chih-ming and Liang Mu-ying. Su has accused the three ruling party lawmakers of taking some NT$100 million from construction of the fourth nuclear power plant, resulting in inferior materials being used in a reactor base structure. Without naming anyone, Chiu has put the number of profiteering DPP lawmakers at four. Apart from libel suits filed against each by some of the parties involved in the dispute, a scuffle broke out Thursday between Su and Cheng’s wife eager to defend the husband, at the corridors of the Legislature. The disciplinary committee has also been empowered to screen documents of the state-run Taiwan Power Co. and the China Shipbuilding Corp., the former being the operator of the nuclear plant, the latter the chief contractor for the reactor base. PFP Legislator Shen Chih-huei, an author of the probe proposal, said the conveners of the disciplinary committee promised a blanket investigation on all possible scams plaguing the nuclear project, apart from the already exposed scandal.

“As the five lawmakers in the case have been submitted to the disciplinary committee, I hope the truth can be found as soon as possible,” said Liang, one of the DPP lawmakers accused of taking undue profits, at a press conference. Please see NUCLEAR on page

“TSU Legislator Su Ying-kuei’s false accusations have already damaged the reputation of DPP lawmakers. “In order to defend the images of ourselves’ and of the party’s … I and Hsu Chih-ming will also sue Su Ying-kuei and Chiu Yi for slander and leaking secrets.”

They allegedly leaked the secrets by citing sources from the government’s anti-corruption task force to back their accusations, said Liang and Hsu, both of whom later went to the Taipei District Prosecutors Office to file a lawsuit. Meanwhile, representatives from Taipei County’s Kungliao, home to the nuclear plant, and a few lawmakers demanded that the government set up an ad hoc investigation task force and halt construction until the truth behind the scandal is found. At a joint press conference with the Kungliao residents, independent Legislator Chao Yung-ching claimed that when the project was to be put to a vote in 1993, a Kuomintang whip solicited support for its passage by saying Taipower promised a NT$50 million contract for each lawmaker. Chao, who used to be a KMT member, also criticized the monitoring mechanisms for the nuclear project, claiming that a U.S. contractor collapsed two years ago and was still allowed to work on the plant.

The DPP administration, promoting their ideal for a nuclear-free Taiwan, halted the project in 2000, a few months after terminating the KMT’s five-decades rule. But the suspension, backfired, with the opposition boycotting government operations for months in protest until then Premier Chang Chun-hsiung retracted the decision and resumed construction. Despite his departure from his offices, Chang still faces a probe by the highest watchdog Control Yuan for allegedly misusing a fund for the development of nuclear power. Apart from Chang, the Legislature yesterday also requested the watchdog investigate incumbent Vice Premier Lin Hsin-i, and Lin Wen-yuan, head and deputy head of the body governing state-run businesses. They broke the budget rules by taking NT$9 billion from to nuclear fund for a loan to support a downsizing plan for the state-run China Shipbuilding.