Government not budging on nuke power project referendum threshold
Central News Agency
2014-04-24 12:03 AM
Taipei, April 24 (CNA) The government is not budging on the voter turnout requirement for a referendum on the fate of the controversial fourth nuclear power plant project that is facing mounting opposition triggered by a high-profile hunger strike, according to presidential sources. Lin Yi-hsiung, a former chairman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), is staging a hunger strike calling for the scrapping of the project. More and more civic groups and politicians are voicing support for his cause. New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu on Wednesday proposed that the 50-percent voter turnout bar be lowered for a national referendum to decide the fate of the plant that is located in his city. Chu noted that such a referendum would not be voting on an issue "at the constitutional level" and so the turnout requirement need not be so strict. Under the current Referendum Act, at least 50 percent of eligible voters need to cast their ballots for a referendum to be valid and a majority approval is needed for it to pass. But President Ma Ying-jeou, Premier Jiang Yi-huah and other senior officials who met later that day said that the proposed referendum on the fourth nuclear power plant is about a "major national policy" that should be decided according to the existing Referendum Act. Presidential spokeswoman Garfie Li said late Wednesday that the Presidential Office had no comment on Chu's proposal, which seemed to echo a DPP proposal to either lower the threshold in the existing law or enact a new one specifically for the fourth nuke power plant, the construction of which is almost completed and safety checks are in progress. Both Ma and Jiang had tried to visit the hunger striking Lin at a church in downtown Taipei but failed to meet him over the past two days. Ma left a message to Lin, assuring him that a national referendum will be held to decide the fate of the plant after safety checks have been completed and its safe operation wins experts' assurance. (By Kelvin Huang and S.C. Chang)
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