Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-03-20 03:05 PM
Since the government announced plans last month for a nationwide referendum about the controversial plant in Gongliao, New Taipei City, business leaders have mostly remained silent or cautioned the public about rising energy prices in the absence of valid alternatives.
Chang said there was no need for a referendum, but if one was held, he would be resolute and vote against the project, reports said. He said the public should do likewise, because most people did not have the money to emigrate, reports said.
Businesses should not endanger the public at large just for the sake of electricity or to make money, the airline chief was quoted as saying. If construction on the fourth nuclear plant has been under way for 20 years, there must be a reason which could cause people to worry, he added.
Chang also described Taiwan as too small, making it impossible for residents to flee to safety in the event of a nuclear accident. He also said it was preferable to phase out the country’s three existing nuclear plants, though that was difficult in the absence of sufficient alternative power production.
The airline chief said one should not look at the short-term cost of halting the fourth plant, because it was not just the survival of local businesses which was at stake, but the fate of the whole country.
Chang told reporters that his father, Evergreen Group founding chairman Chang Jung-fa, one of Taiwan’s most prominent business leaders for several decades, was even more opposed to the plant than he was.
The younger Chang recently criticized the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou for failing to hurry up with its plan for the Taoyuan Aerotropolis near Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party reportedly planned to take its campaign against the plant to the countryside with a range of activities, including plays and stories. The party has called for a complete nuclear phase-out by 2025, while Premier Jiang Yi-huah has mentioned 2055 as a possible end date in the event the fourth plant was completed.
Using a more relaxed method of spreading knowledge about nuclear energy would be more helpful to achieve a high turnout in the eventual referendum, the DPP reportedly reasoned. The main stumbling block in the way of an anti-nuclear victory is the requirement that at least 50 percent of eligible voters, or more than 9 million people, cast a valid ballot.
On March 9, an estimated 220,000 people protested across the country against the nuclear project, and opinion polls have shown opposition running at around 60 percent to 70 percent.