Anti-nuclear rally planned for April 26
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-19 04:32 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Opponents of the fourth nuclear plant said Saturday they would try and besiege the Presidential Office Building on April 26 if the government failed to respond to former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung’s hunger strike beginning next Tuesday.

The veteran anti-nuclear campaigner wants President Ma Ying-jeou to call an immediate halt to the controversial plant now nearing completion in Gongliao, New Taipei City, along Taiwan’s north coast.

At the same time, the DPP is also proposing a special referendum law which would make it easier than existing legislation for a nationwide vote to be held on the subject.

Anti-nuclear organizations said they would accompany Lin’s action by staging similar sit-ins across the country with thousands participating and by launching protests against the Cabinet, the Legislative Yuan and the ruling Kuomintang.

If the government had not responded to Lin’s concerns by April 24, an even more intensive protest was going to take place on Saturday April 26, with activists trying to besiege the Presidential Office Building, organizers said.

The protest actions would continue until the government ordered work on the fourth nuclear plant halted and until the life of the three existing plants was no longer extended, activists said.

The former DPP leader’s hunger strike had registered positively with the anti-nuclear camp, which felt it should help him achieve his goal of a nuclear-free Taiwan. More details about their plans would be revealed at a news conference Monday, the activists said.

DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang said on Saturday he was willing to explain the opposition’s proposal for a special referendum about the fourth nuclear plant after criticism from government leaders.

Su said the government had misunderstood and misrepresented the opposition party’s proposal for a referendum, and he was willing to come out and clear up those problems. Earlier, Premier Jiang Yi-huah described the DPP referendum plan as “a child’s play” because according to him, it would allow a vote where only three people turned up of which two decided the fate of the nuclear project.

The DPP dismissed his comments as ridiculous because a controversial topic like nuclear energy was likely to draw out a sizeable proportion of the population to vote.

The opposition proposal lowers the current high thresholds for a referendum and allows for a rapid vote, lowering the fear that the issue will dominate the November 29 local and regional elections. The DPP document also called for a clear question on the ballot, in a step away from the existing Referendum Act which allows for ambiguous questions.

When the government announced more than a year ago that it wanted a nationwide referendum about the fourth nuclear plant, the expected question would allow work on the project to continue if not enough voters showed up under the existing high threshold requirements.

The DPP legislative caucus said it would file the plan with the Legislative Yuan next week and hope it would not meet with unexpected obstacles. However, the KMT said it would not allow the referendum package to move to a second reading on April 25. The issue and the proposal were too far-reaching to just allow them to be moved on to second and first reading without further discussions, KMT legislative caucus chief whip Lin Hung-chih told reporters.

DPP legislators said the proposal should break through the divide between government and opposition and form the start of a new national conversation.

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