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Vast majority opposes nuclear plant: poll
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-29 04:45 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Two thirds of the public want the fourth nuclear plant not to operate and even more said there should be a referendum about the controversial project, according to an opinion poll presented by the Taiwan Thinktank Tuesday.

Former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung began a hunger strike on April 22, thrusting the Gongliao, New Taipei City, plant to the foreground of the political scene again. Massive protests followed and the government changed its stance, though not sufficiently to please protesters.

The poll found that 65.6 percent of the public agreed that construction should stop and the fourth plant should not operate, while 72.1 percent agreed that work should stop and a referendum should decide whether construction should continue or not. The government camp has proposed completing the work before eventually moving on to a next phase, such as a referendum.

A total of 63.3 percent said that the safety of the plant could not be guaranteed, so there should be no nuclear reactors in the first place, according to Taiwan Thinktank Vice President Lai I-chung.

The respondents to the opinion survey also proposed reform of the Referendum Act. The abolition of the minimum participation level of 50 percent as a requirement for the referendum result to be valid was a demand shared by 64.8 percent of respondents, at least for public policy issues. An eventual initiative by the Legislative Yuan to launch a nuclear referendum was supported by 54.6 percent, while both a positive and a negative reply should be a choice.

As to Lin’s treatment, 59.9 percent opposed force-feeding ordered by the government. Lin was forced on Monday to leave the Gikong Presbyterian Church in Taipei where he fasted in order to seek medical treatment for his weakening condition.

The Taiwan Thinktank entrusted Trend Survey and Research Co., Ltd. to conduct the poll April 26-28, during mass protests against the nuclear plant and Lin’s fast. A total of 1,024 respondents gave valid replies, while the margin of error stood at 3.1 percent.

The poll results corresponded in large measure to other surveys over the past few years, with 60 to 70 percent of the public opposing nuclear energy in general and the fourth plant in particular. The overwhelming level of opposition against the government project has often been cited as a reason why the plant should be scrapped right away instead of spending taxpayers’ money on a referendum.

The government said in February last year it wanted a nationwide vote before the end of 2013, but under the existing Referendum Act with its high thresholds. The referendum plan faded into the background amid political infighting between President Ma Ying-jeou and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng last September.

The Taiwan Thinktank poll also looked back at the conflict over the trade-in-services pact with China, which led to the occupation of the Legislative Yuan by students from March 18 until April 10.

Up to 69.3 percent of respondents agreed with the opposition demand that a framework law should treat cross-straits pacts as country-to-country agreements, and 62.1 percent disapproved of government legal action against the occupiers.

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