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December, 8, 2016

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KMT must fight problematic imports to maintain credibility: Hau Lung-bin

The Kuomintang (KMT) moved Thursday to put the issue of whether to allow food product imports from irradiated prefectures of Japan to a national referendum.

Hau Lung-bin, one of the party's deputy chairmen, called for residents in Tainan to "reject the entry of food products from nuclear disaster areas into Taiwan."

He said that if the KMT did not take "perceptible action," the people would feel that the party faced closure.

He accused the Democratic Progressive Party administration of pursuing diplomatic ties with Japan at the expense of food safety.

"The party (KMT) is foreign to fighting against those outside it and it's an expert at inner strife. But it must fight because we've clearly lost the youth. The KMT's only viable road is to win through election. If the party doesn't reflect, it will have no future," he said.

Hau said the party hoped to collect 95,000 signatures to start the national referendum process.

As the first hurdle, a petition for a referendum requires the signatures of 0.5 percent of eligible votes from the most recent presidential election.

Hau's efforts will likely be supported by former Health Minister Yang Chih-liang (楊志良), as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations.

Yang decried the government's stance toward Japan on the issue, saying it lacked "LP," a Minnan obscenity referring to testes.

Hours after Hau's remarks — in a development that highlighted the party's difficulties in mustering youth support — a protest organized by the KMT's youth wing was only attended by a handful of members outside the president's residential compound in Taipei.

Handily outnumbered by cordons of police officers, the protesters denounced President Tsai Ing-wen.

The president's chef should prepare meals for the administration using food from irradiated prefectures, and government officials should get their health checked after a year, the protesters said.

An attempt to move in the direction of the presidential residence was stopped dead in its tracks, after which organizers vowed to go to all corners of the island to push a referendum on the food imports.

Protesters claimed they "simply wanted to present their views and were surrounded by a force hundreds of times larger."

"Do the people still have freedom of speech?" one of the participants asked.

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