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Nuclear referendum clears first hurdle
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-15 07:34 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The first proposal for a nationwide nuclear referendum cleared its first hurdle Tuesday, with the Central Election Commission announcing it had received a sufficient number of endorsements.

The Taiwan Environmental Protection Union needed to present at least 90,432 signatures in favor of the plebiscite, but the CEC counted a total of 121,831, reports said.

In the next phase, the CEC will send on the documents to the Executive Yuan’s Referendum Review Committee for an evaluation.

TEPU said it hoped the procedure could be completed to allow the referendum to take place on November 29, when voters all over Taiwan will go to the polls to elect new city mayors, county magistrates, councilors, neighborhood wardens and other local officials.

The proposed question to be put on the ballot is “Do you agree that the Taiwan Power Corporation fourth nuclear plant in New Taipei City should install nuclear fuel rods for a test run?”

Previous attempts by TEPU to launch local nuclear referendums in New Taipei City and Yilan County faltered when the government’s review committee ruled that nuclear energy was a national topic which was not suited to be decided on in local votes. As a result, the activists decided to mount a campaign for a national referendum, even though it was more difficult because of the higher amounts of signatures needed.

The next phase will require at least 904,000 endorsements, or 5 percent of the more than 18 million people who were eligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election.

In a separate development, the High Administrative Court was scheduled to rule August 5 on a suit brought by former Vice President Annette Lu against the rejection of her New Taipei City referendum proposal by the government last year.

If the court ruling was negative, she said she would work toward the organization of a plebiscite in the area around the fourth nuclear plant in Gongliao, New Taipei City. The cities of Taipei, New Taipei and Keelung as well as Yilan County have been generally described as the area where residents should flee from in the event of a nuclear disaster. The region should have the right to hold a referendum of its own, Lu said.

After a hunger strike by former Democratic Progressive Party leader Lin Yi-hsiung earlier this year, the government more or less agreed to put the nuclear plant on hold. However, Lu warned that as soon as its position was safe again, the government of President Ma Ying-jeou would betray its promises and restart the project, which has been on and off for decades due to serious safety concerns.

Opposition picked up again after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011 and as the fourth nuclear plant neared completion.

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