Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (???) has rallied in support of a referendum seeking to bring the long-mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant back to life, amid concerns from a KMT mayor over the plant's safety.
At a press event Monday, Chu urged voters to vote "yes" in four upcoming referendums scheduled for Dec. 18., including a motion in favor of bringing the nuclear power plant in New Taipei's Gongliao District online, saying it would provide a safe means of generating electricity.
The plant has lain dormant since it was mothballed in 2015 by then President Ma Ying-jeou (???). The KMT's Ma acted after the almost-completed construction encountered public opposition due to perceived safety risks.
Despite Chu stumping in support of the plant, others in his party have expressed misgivings over restarting work. New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (???) stated last week that the plant should not be activated unless its safety could be ensured and radioactive waste properly handled.
Asked to comment, Chu maintained that he and Hou were on the same page on the issue, insisting that ensuring nuclear safety and resolving the issue of radioactive waste should be the responsibility of the party in power.
But Taiwan's energy security and national security are also very important, Chu said.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is intent on phasing out nuclear power by 2025, and the president should let people know if there will be enough energy without nuclear power by then, Chu said.
The DPP has opposed the idea of activating the plant and has said it will campaign for a "no" vote in the referendum.
During a rally in Taoyuan last Saturday, President Tsai Ing-wen (???) said concerns over the plant's safety existed due to its location on fault lines close to urban areas of Taipei and New Taipei, the two largest cities in Taiwan.
Activating the plant would cost the country more than 10 years and massive amounts of investment, Tsai said, adding that such efforts could be better used by focusing on renewable energy development.
Although the issue of nuclear power has come into the limelight in recent years, the country's dependence on nuclear power for electricity generation has fallen significantly from over 50 percent in 1985 to only 12.7 percent in 2020, according to Taiwan Power Company data.
However, the DPP government's current energy plan for Taiwan, including gradually phasing out nuclear energy, has also come in for criticism over whether it would satisfy growing demand for electricity.
In addition to the vote regarding the fate of the nuclear power plant, the KMT has also lined up in favor of three other referendums on pork imports, algal reefs, and election dates.
At the press event, Chu announced the launch of a nationwide KMT campaign, after having described the Dec. 18 plebiscites as a vote of no confidence in the DPP.
The party will hold 1,218 talks across Taiwan and its outlying islands in the leadup to polling day, with Chu saying that DPP was going against public opinion by campaigning for "no" votes in the referendums.
Meanwhile, as part of its own nationwide campaign launched last Saturday, the DPP legislative caucus said Monday that every DPP legislator would hold at least one event in their constituency or other areas to promote "no" votes in the four referendums.
DPP lawmaker Lai Jui-lung (???) said the result of the votes would have a huge impact on Taiwan's long-tern development, electricity supply and social stability.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel