People must make, and live with, their nuclear decision

The China Post news staff

Despite his avowed commitment to abide by the outcome of a referendum in deciding whether or not to scrap the country’s Fourth Nuclear Power Plant now being built in Gongliao, New Taipei City, Premier Jiang Yi-huah, caught between a rock and a hard place, may be trying to prejudice the outcome of the vote sponsored by the ruling Kuomintang. Many people are sympathetic to Premier Jiang, or anyone who is in his shoes and the same predicament. Primarily, when he was given the job last month, he was supposed to turn around the tanking economy, not an impossible task, but one that cannot be easily achieved without the availability of cheap energy. And cheap energy cannot be easily available in resource-poor, developing Taiwan if it decides to wean itself from the use of nuclear energy. The large-scale use of other energy sources, such as coal and natural gas, however, could lead to pollution, higher electricity costs, and a further dependence on fossil or other fuel imports. The smog recently engulfing China’s capital Beijing and its surrounding areas is a foretaste of what would likely happen in Taiwan if nuclear energy gets a thumbs-down in the referendum. The arguments for the continued use of nuclear energy are familiar and, of course, sound, too. But it must be understood that the people’s safety concerns are also real and equally understandable, especially in the aftermath of Fukushima. So one wonders why Jiang, instead of allowing the referendum to take its course, appears to be a little “desperate” when there is a possibility that the government might have to halt the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

He said earlier this month that he will tender his resignation, in order to take political responsibility, if the nation votes to halt the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant’s construction, before warning that the country’s power supply monopoly Taipower may face bankruptcy if the project is scrapped. The consequences of Taipower going bankrupt, as a result of a construction halt, would likewise be levied on the people, he added.