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Talk of the day -- The issues to follow nuclear power

2014/05/01 17:12:37

Inside the fourth nuclear power plant. (CNA file photo)

Lin Yi-hsiung, a former chairman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, (DPP) ended his nine-day hunger strike against the fourth nuclear power plant Wednesday, three days after the government decided to call off work on the nearly completed plant.

In a statement, Lin outlined his next four objectives: amending the Referendum Act to relax restrictions on plebiscites, blocking a special statute on free economic pilot zones, promoting constitutional reforms through a "civic constitutional meeting" and lobbying candidates from local to national levels to commit to abolishing nuclear energy.

The development has drawn mixed responses from the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and the DPP, which Lin left in 2006. The national focus has now begun to shift to the tricky issue of constitutional amendments.

The following are excerpts of major newspapers' coverage of the issue:

China Times:

DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang said his party will drop its plan to promote a special statute regarding a referendum on the fourth nuclear power plant now that the government has decided to shelve the project. Instead, the party will seek to revise the Referendum Act to fix certain provisions they consider unreasonable.

KMT legislative caucus whip Lin Hung-chih, meanwhile, said the KMT favors maintaining the current requirements for national referendums, although there is room for discussion on whether to ease the regulations governing local referendums.

On constitutional reforms, Lin Hung-chih said moving ahead would not be easy without a social consensus on the matter.

According to DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming, the party has been inspired by the Sunflower Movement that occupied the Legislature and now hopes to mobilize a "cross-generational effort" to amend the Constitution and change Taiwan's semi-presidential system of government to either a presidential system or a parliamentary system.

Ker however admitted that reforming the Constitution is "the most difficult task for this generation of politicians."

As to Lin Yi-hsiung's call for lawmakers to block a special statute on free economic pilot zones, Ker said the DPP believes that the proposed legislation should be reviewed item by item and fully discussed in committees. (May 1, 2014)

United Daily News:

How to surpass Lin Yi-hsiung in influence will be one of the biggest challenges lying ahead for the DPP, which is obviously weaker than Lin when it comes to rallying public support, evidenced clearly by the fourth nuclear power plant issue.

Although the DPP sees Lin Yi-hsiung as its linchpin, Lin has long distanced himself from the party. Months ago, he told media that he was planning to form his own political party with an aim to take part in the next legislative elections in 2016.

The end of Lin's hunger strike signifies that the "coopetition" between Lin and the DPP will enter a new stage, as public recognition of Lin does not necessarily equate to support for the DPP.

On the other hand, the KMT, which has been forced to let go of one policy after another, needs to work to reverse the unfavorable situation during the remaining two years leading up to the 2016 presidential and legislative elections.

In his capacity as KMT chairman, President Ma Ying-jeou on Wednesday named incumbent Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu and Taichung Mayor Jason Hu as the ruling party's vice chairmen, officially introducing the trio into the KMT's policymaking circle. This demonstrates that Ma has finally realized how serious his crisis has become.

As the Legislature remains the main battleground for the special statute on free economic pilot zones, Ma now also needs to find a way to maintain friendly interaction with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng. (May 1, 2014)

(By Y.F. Low)

Video report: Taiwan's nuclear debate heats up

Related stories:
●April 30: Anti-nuclear activist releases statement after ending hunger strike
●April 28: Lin Yi-hsiung hospitalized during hunger strike against nuclear plant
●April 27: Government halts fourth nuclear plant construction (update 2)
●April 22: Ex-DPP chief begins fast to push for scrapping of nuclear plant

(Click here for stories before the debate on nuclear power was recently rekindled.)