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Organizers disappointed at low turnout at anti-nuclear events

2011/06/11 19:56:06

Taipei, June 11 (CNA) Environmentalists expressed disappointmentSaturday over the low turnout at a series of public events they hadorganized to pressure the government into phasing out nuclear power.

Three months after a nuclear crisis in Japan that was caused by amassive earthquake and tsunami, environmentalists in Taiwan gatheredat 223 train stations throughout the country Saturday, givingspeeches and performing skits to highlight the nuclear issue inTaiwan.

However, at Taipei Main Station, where the organizers wereexpecting at least 1,000 people show up, the crowd was only about100.

The response was similar at Changhua Station in central Taiwan,where fewer than 50 people gathered to support the anti-nuclearcampaign.

Hsu Kuang-jung, an environmentalist and a NationalTaiwan University professor, said it has always been a challenge forenvironmentalists to keep their agenda fresh for the public becausepeople tend to shift their focus to what appears more relevant totheir daily lives.

For example, Hsu said as the recent food contamination problemgrew, the nuclear issue faded from news.

"We know there are a lot of people who are against nuclear power,but the key question now is how to get them to join us," shesaid.

Charles Dewees, a 32-year-old French environmentalist who has beenin Taiwan for five years, said he often wondered about the absence ofyoung people from environmental demonstrations like the one held inTaipei.

"It's very different from our tradition that the youth shouldtake the lead to address social issues," he said. "Are young peoplein Taiwan all staying at home watching TV?"

Juju Wang, president of Taiwan Environmental Protection, said theorganization is brainstorming to figure out ways to draw greaterparticipation in the anti-nuclear campaign.

"It's too often the case that civic movements in Taiwan resort tomoaning and groaning without coming up with constructive solutions, "he said.

Wang said a more creative approach was needed to make thedemonstrations "carnival-like" and attractive to the public.

He said the organization would try to mobilize more people in the future by making its environmental appeals more impressive and fun.

"We will ask pet owners to bring their dogs and cats to theevents in the hope that people will understand thenuclear issue does not affect only humans," he said.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)
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