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September 25, 2017

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Opposition obstructs Yuan Sitting over Nuke 4

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Opposition parties continued to boycott Kuomintang (KMT) proposals for a referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, taking over the podium and obstructing yesterday's Yuan Sitting.

Opposing parties protested with placards, shouting out: "Birdcage referendum! Fake democracy! Halting Nuke 4 does not violate the constitution!"

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said, "The KMT has put forth a terribly fraudulent referendum. We are ready for war. The DPP will not back down."

DPP lawmakers also urged the KMT to respect what Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) had promised at the beginning of this year's Yuan sessions. Before, they had demanded that the government halt all construction and budgeting for the plant before the outcome of the referendum, to which Jiang agreed.

They had also reached a consensus with Jiang that amendments will be made to the Referendum Act, while an interparty team would be formed to ensure that the politically binding requests are carried out by the Cabinet.

"So far, there have been no adjustments made to the Referendum Act, and there is no such team," Ker said.

The term "birdcage referendum" refers to the Referendum Act, which requires over 50 percent of voters to turn out, an unlikely scenario even in high-budget local elections like the regional legislative by-elections.

DPP lawmaker Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said that the party was not against a referendum, but against launching a referendum now. "The KMT should follow the consensus points that they promised," he said.

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmaker Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) suggested that the Legislature should launch some discussions on other bill proposals first, such as the Anti-Nuke law or the Nuclear Reactor Control Act.

"The TSU supports the Legislature to discuss less controversial topics first," Lin explained.

"We do not want to obstruct any sessions, we just want to stand firm in opposing nuclear power."

KMT lawmaker Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said that launching the referendum to decide the fate of Nuke 4 has always been the DPP's plan. "We were only following what they originally wanted, in hopes that the citizens may decide what the Legislature could not for nearly 20 years."

The ongoing controversy over the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant has been haunting Taiwan for more than two decades. While the ruling government insists that terminating the plant would cause drastic hikes to electricity rates, anti-nuclear voices have grown louder, especially after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown incident.

On Feb. 25, the premier declared that the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be put to a national referendum.

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