Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-03-22 03:03 PM
Hau’s statement at a news conference Thursday seemed to indicate that he was turning away from ruling Kuomintang support for the plant under construction in Gongliao, New Taipei City, in response to widespread public opposition.
Jiang promised a nationwide referendum on the issue, which is likely to be held by the end of the year.
He told lawmakers Friday that he maintained close contacts with President Ma Ying-jeou, Hau and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Liluan Chu on the subject of the nuclear plant and that their views were completely the same. Chu, Hau and more recently Jiang have been seen as potential contenders for the KMT nomination in the 2016 presidential election.
At present, many people had doubts about the project’s safety, so that was the reason why the Ministry of Economic Affairs would hold a complete review and invite experts from home and abroad to inspect safety in Gongliao, the premier said.
Once safety at the plant had been guaranteed, a referendum could be held with a different outcome, Jiang told lawmakers.
Following the uproar over his statements, Hau said Friday that if public opinion became even clearer, there might be a discussion about the need for a referendum in the first place. The Cabinet could find a solution to the issue through negotiations with the Legislative Yuan, he said.
Jiang has said that ordering a stop to the project without the agreement of the Legislature would be unconstitutional.
Hau told reporters that he had informed the president of his view that the nuclear plant was an issue of general policy rather than a purely party-political topic. Ma responded by pointing at possible energy shortages and at the nuclear policies of European countries and Japan, the mayor said.
Chu said that if safety was not guaranteed, it made no sense to hold a referendum about the plant. If international experts concluded that there were problems with the project, then there should be no vote, the mayor said. Asked about Hau’s comments, he added that there was no referendum tomorrow.
A delegation of 30 KMT members visited the Gongliao plant Friday morning at the invitation of state-run Taiwan Power Corporation, which has come under attack for its alleged mishandling of the project. KMT Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan said the company should be open and transparent about the problems at the plant. Out of seven lawmakers invited, only one reportedly showed up.
The opposition Democratic Progressive Party and environmental groups have slammed Taipower for only invited ruling party politicians deemed sympathetic to nuclear energy.
On Thursday, the DPP used the absence of KMT lawmakers at a committee meeting to vote against a 2013 Taipower budget for the plant. The ruling party vowed to put the subject on the agenda again next week.