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Su, Hau meet to exchange ideas on 4th Nuclear Power Plant
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-20 04:29 PM
The DPP has pledged to support former party chairman Lin Yi-hsiung and his hunger strike set to begin on Tuesday, looking for all possible angles to halt construction on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant on the northeast coast of the island. One possible avenue is a referendum on nuclear power, and DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang met Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin Sunday morning to discuss the issue and draw attention to the movement opposed to reliance on nuclear power and more specifically, to continued construction on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

Hau, who has taken a stance against nuclear power in the past, said that while the decision on whether construction of the power plant lies with the Central Government, he strongly believes Taipei should have a say in the matter. He said that as long as the safety of nuclear power generation cannot be guaranteed, as mayor he remains firmly opposed to expanding nuclear power on the island.

Su went to Taipei City Hall Sunday to seek out Hau and discuss issues related to the nuclear power plant. In a joint press conference afterwards he stressed the importance of getting more people involved in the campaign to oppose the plant regardless of their party preference or political orientation. He called for everyone to work together to solve the problem of the power plant and nuclear power in general, as a part of what he dubbed his "running" campaign against the plant.

Mayor Hau added there are many points on which he and Su disagree on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, but noted that the issue has caused a great deal of strife, and delays in construction and changes in design have jacked up the price of the plant significantly over the years. He said that now with construction og the plant almost finished it is high time to make a final decision on whether to continue construction and go ahead with loading of fuel rods for the reactor or scrap the whole project.

Su noted that three years ago he and Hau were rivals in the election for Taipei mayor, but now the focus of their meeting was finding ways to cooperate. He added that after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, nuclear power and problems related to nuclear power plants are being scrutinized much more closely in Taiwan. He expressed his admiration for Hau for being willing to seek input from others regarding the nuclear issue.

Hau returned the favor by saying he greatly appreciated the fact that Su was willing to take the first step in reaching out for support for a referendum and other ways to resolve the nuclear crisis. He said the DPP chairman’s visit to the Taipei Municipal Government was a good start toward working out a solution to the power plant issue.

Hau pointed out that the power plant is dangerously close to Taipei, with most of the city within the critical 30-kilometer escape ring. Taipei has conducted a total of eight opinion surveys on the nuclear power plant, with all polls showing that citizens of the city oppose construction of the plant by margins varying from 2:1 to 3:1. This shows, said Hau, that most people feel the nuclear power plant should not be allowed to begin operating, and the Taipei Municipal Government should have a say in deciding whether the plant should be built.

Hau concluded by stressing that the people have not been convinced of the safety of the power plants themselves as well as how low-level nuclear waste should be handled. Personally, he said, "I have not seen a breakthrough in nuclear power plant safety, and as long that that is the situation, I strongly oppose continued construction and start-up of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant."

Meanwhile Premier Jiang Yi-huah announced Sunday that he would be willing to meet Chairman Su at his earliest possible convenience to discuss the nuclear power issue and explore ways to work together on resolving differences of opinion.

Jiang said he has always believed that the ruling and opposition parties should be able to talk about problems of national significance and exchange views on possible solutions. He ssaid he has invited Su and other DPP leaders to contact him as soon as possible in order to arrange for a meeting.

Jiang noted that on April 18 during his appearance at the Legislative Yuan, opposition leader Ker Chien-ming pointed out that the DPP has already outlined its demands on what should be included in a referendum on nuclear power. In addition, said Ker, Chairman Su has stated in public that he is anxious to meet with administration officials to discuss the nuclear problem.

Jiang said he is delighted that Su is reaching out. He said that as premier, he has always advocated that the ruling and opposition sides should sit down and exchange views on the nuclear problem and other issues. He said the government and the country cannot afford continued deadlock over controversies that are tearing apart the community.

The premier cautioned, however, that while he is agreeable to discussing sticking points like whether to lower the thresholds imposed on referenda in Taiwan, it is essential that the referendum not put in a position where it is susceptible to hijacking by a simple majority. He said setting the bar too low can leave a referendum subject to factors that dilute its effectiveness and validity.

Jiang said he believes that Taiwan's laws on referendum thresholds are "medium to strict" in comparison with the laws in other countries, and while in the past this has meant that votes on controversial issues have been in vain because voter turnout or the margin of difference failed to meet the requirements, the threshold is a mechanism that must be retained. Otherwise, he said, it is too easy for a simple majority to determine the outcome of a referendum and whole process looks “sloppy”.

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