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KMT-PFP RESURRECT PROPOSAL FOR REFERENDUM ON NUCLEAR POWER PLANT

2004-01-03 17:52:47

    Taipei, Jan. 3 (CNA) The "pan-blue alliance" of the Kuomintang (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) dusted off an earlier proposal for a referendum on whether to continue construction of a nuclear power plant and rapidly gathered the sponsorship of enough lawmakers Saturday to make it a subject for discussion in the Legislative Yuan.

    In a policy about-face on the party's stance of neither initiating nor blocking any proposal for a referendum on the nuclear power plant, "pan-blue alliance" authorities - who, ironically, opposed the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) original plan to halt construction of the nearly half-finished Fourth Nuclear Power Plant -- decided to give the green light to PFP lawmaker Chiou Yi's call for a referendum on the issue.

    KMT legislative whip Lee Jia-chin signed Chiou's motion Friday in a gesture indicating the KMT's approval of the idea.

    Taking the cue from Lee, a dozen KMT lawmakers put their names on the motion and brought the number of its sponsors to 33, two more than the required 31 to put forward the proposal for discussion.

    Chiou had raised the notion of the referendum one weeks ago, but was dissuaded from pursuing the idea by members of both parties.

    However, a former chairman of the DPP and staunch anti-nuclear activist Lin Yi-hsiung staged a sit-in in front of KMT headquarters, trying to bring public pressure to bear on the KMT.

    Saying that Lin was barking up the wrong tree, the KMT said it was DPP Chairman and President Chen Shui-bian who didn't want to see the referendum. Chen is having to bend over backwards to try to placate the United States on his own idea of having a referendum on Beijing's military threat against Taiwan.

    The president has used the clause in the recently passed Referendum Law to call for a nationwide vote should Taiwan be threatened by external forces. Chen has repeatedly said that the nearly 500 missiles that mainland China has arrayed on its southeast coast opposite Taiwan - and targeting the island -- meet the requirement to call such a "defensive referendum."

    KMT lawmakers said that the president has his hands full and would not like to see another referendum - on the nuclear power plant issue - brought up at this time.

    To expose the DPP's "halfhearted support" for Lin's anti-nuclear idea, the "pan-blue alliance" decided to kick off the process for a referendum on this issue to force the ruling party to show its hand.

    Based on opinion polls, a KMT political analyst said his party was quite sure that the public will support its opposition to stopping work on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in a referendum, and that such a referendum may boost the popularity of the party's candidate in the presidential election by 3 or 4 percent if it is held along with the presidential election.

    The DPP will certainly go out of its way to pull the plug on the opposition's proposal for a referendum on the nuclear power plant to prevent it from outshining the president's referendum; in which case, the KMT analyst said, it will at least press home to anti-nuclear activists who are mainly DPP sympathizers that the DPP is only paying lip service to their cause.

(By Maubo Chang)

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