Taipei, April 21 (CNA) Premier Jiang Yi-huah and the leader of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) failed to reach a consensus on the future of the controversial fourth nuclear power plant during a meeting Monday.
The premier said he could not unilaterally announce the halt of the construction of the plant, and the two disagreed on whether a referendum on the project should follow the threshold set in Taiwan's Referendum Act or use another formula.
Jiang supported maintaining the law's requirement of a 50 percent turnout for a referendum to be valid, while DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang favored dropping the turnout threshold and having the vote decided by a simple majority.
During the nearly 90-minute meeting, Su expressed the hope that the Executive Yuan would stop the plant's construction by issuing an executive order.
Jiang said that in view of the huge losses from the suspension of the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant in 2000 and the situation in other countries, the government probably "will not unilaterally announce the halt of the construction."
He said the Executive Yuan's stance has always been that it would only operate the plant if its safety is ensured.
Su also said that if the premier could not shut down the facility, he hoped a special bill on a referendum on the fourth nuclear power plant would not be obstructed by the ruling Kuomintang in the Legislature's Procedure Committee Tuesday.
Jiang promised to convey Su's wish to President Ma Ying-jeou, who doubles as KMT chairman, for an overall assessment.
The premier also said he felt sorry to learn that Lin Yi-hsiung, a former DPP chairman, would begin a fast Tuesday to force the government to stop construction of the plant.
Jiang said Lin is a much-respected political figure, and his family has made major sacrifices for Taiwan's democracy.
The premier said he was willing to visit Lin, if possible, and explain the government's energy policy and its views on the fourth nuclear power plant.
He also hoped Lin's family and friends could convince him not to make his political appeal at the expense of his personal health.
The premier said the fourth nuclear power plant did not just involve the question of whether or not to scrap the plant but the country's energy policy as a whole.
The Executive Yuan hopes that three existing nuclear power plants can be decommissioned as scheduled and the fourth nuclear power plant can begin operations as scheduled to fill the gap, Jiang said.
If the fourth nuclear plant cannot begin operations, then the three existing plants cannot be decommissioned as planned, he said.
He cited Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch as saying that if none of the four plants are generating power, "Taiwan will definitely run short of electricity."
Su said that if President Ma is willing to move toward solving the controversies surrounding the project, "I will even pay him a visit."
With Lin set to start a fast Tuesday to send a wake-up call to the people, Su said the longstanding issue has come to a critical juncture, and his visit Monday was "to solve the problem and seek a solution."
Related stories:●April 21: Groups plan rallies against fourth nuclear power plant●April 21: Premier, opposition leader to discuss nuclear issue (update)●April 17: Talk of the Day -- DPP deploys 'nuclear bomb'
(Click here for stories before the debate on nuclear power was recently rekindled.)