DPP to draw up strategy to alter Referendum Act

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The legislative caucus of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will hold a meeting today on plans to revise the Referendum Act, one day ahead of scheduled coordinating consultations with the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) on the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

The DPP said its chairman, Su Tseng-chang, will personally attend the meeting, aimed at mapping out legislative strategy and enhancing solidarity among party lawmakers on the issue.

The KMT administration has said it will accept a referendum on whether to continue building the nuclear power plant in New Taipei City.

But the DPP said it will not go along with the KMT’s proposed wording for the referendum, instead aiming to revise the Referendum Act on the grounds that its current rules make the complete scrapping of the plant almost impossible. Under the KMT’s preferred referendum question, the current act would require a “Yes” vote by at least 50 percent of eligible voters to scrap the controversial nuclear project. Certain DPP sources said the interparty consultation on the referendum, scheduled for tomorrow, may not in fact take place.

Lawmakers with the main opposition party, which is seeking a stop to construction work on the unfinished plant, said the current criteria for referendums are simply too strict. The DPP is also seeking to modify the act to make it easier to present a referendum proposal to voters. Some opposition members also want to eliminate a panel empowered to screen all referendum proposals.

Investigation DPP Legislator Cheng Li-jun said she will today ask the Control Yuan, the nation’s highest watchdog supervising government operations, to launch an investigation into an alleged violation of the Referendum Act by Premier Jiang Yi-huah, who backs the holding of a referendum on the nuclear power plant. Cheng said the act prohibits any administrative agencies from holding or proposing any referendum. In response, KMT lawmaker Lin Hong-chi said that there has been no violation of any regulations as the referendum will be formally proposed by legislators rather than by the KMT’s legislative caucus or by the Cabinet. Other ruling party legislators said that there could be room for discussion with the DPP on whether to ease the criteria on adopting referendum proposals.

But they added that it would be impossible to lower the threshold for votes required to pass referendums, claiming that many nations have maintained the same standards in the name of political and social stability. Environmentalists and other anti-nuclear activists are planning to hold a mass demonstration on March 9 in Taipei to push for the nationwide elimination of nuclear energy, and to solicit wider public support for the scrapping of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

Adequate Info Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said the growing concern about nuclear safety displayed by the public is a positive development. The government is obliged to provide thorough information concerning the issue so as to allow people to make up their own minds, Hau said. He also expressed confidence that Premier Jiang possesses the wisdom and capability to handle all the matters related to the referendum.

Plant Visit The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) plans to invite leaders of six major commerce and industry organizations to soon conduct an on-site inspection of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant. The tour will update the groups on the current status of the construction work and the plant’s latest safety measures, the ministry said. MOEA officials added that the ministry has been working on a list of those to be invited and a schedule for the visit.