FAPA Statement On The Nuclear Four Debate In Taiwan
For more than two decades, a heated debate has been raging on and off in Taiwan about the desirability of a Fourth Nuclear Power Plant at Kungliao, only 26 miles from Taipei. Plans were made as early as the 1980s, funds were allocated in the early 1990s, and actual construction was started in 1999.
TaiPower, the state-owned enterprise responsible for construction and operation of the plant did not follow the normal “turnkey” procedure, but managed the construction itself, and contracted General Electric of the United States to build the reactors, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan to supply the turbines and generators, while many local companies received lucrative subcontracts. This led to major delays and cost-overruns: similar power plants in other countries generally take 4 years to build. Nuclear Four is now in its 15th year of construction.
However, since the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan, opposition against the completion of the power plant has significantly increased. The major reasons are that the Kungliao plant is of similar design as the Fukushima reactors, is also located on a seismic fault line, and is close to the sea, where it would be subject to being struck by a tsunami. In addition, the fact that the plant is only 26 miles from Taipei means that in case of a disaster, a major metropolitan area of nearly seven million people would have to be evacuated, a sheer impossible task.
During the past years, there have been numerous efforts through the regular political system to stop construction of the plant and to decide that it should not go into operation. These efforts included introduction of a referendum. Under normal circumstances such a referendum would easily pass, as opinion polls show that an overwhelming majority opposes Nuclear Four.
However, Taiwan has an archaic referendum law, which stipulates that a referendum only passes if more than 50% of the eligible voters express themselves in favor of such a referendum. This threshold is unreasonably high and in practical terms impossible to reach. Not a single referendum in the United States would pass if these rules were applied.
What has now added urgency to the discussion is that on Tuesday April 22nd 2014, veteran Taiwan democracy leader Lin Yi-hsiung, who served as DPP party chairman between 1998 and 2000, went on an indefinite hunger strike at his former home, now a Presbyterian Church, where on February 28th 1980 his mother and twin-daughters were knifed to death in what was widely believed to be a political murder. The case was never resolved. Lin has vowed to fast to the end if the government does not agree to halting construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
1. That an immediate moratorium on the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is called for;
2. That the Ma Ying-jeou Administration needs to agree to a fair and equitable referendum at the earliest possible time so the people in Taiwan can decide whether they want the plant to go into operation or not, and
3. That the existing clause in the Referendum Act, which requires 50% of the eligible voters to express themselves in favor, needs to be dropped immediately.
As concerned Taiwanese-Americans we care deeply about Taiwan and its future as a free and democratic nation. We express our strong support for Mr. Lin Yi-hsiung and his goals, and urge the Taiwan government of President Ma Ying-jeou to respond in accordance with the principles of true democracy.
我們台美人深切地關心台灣人民的自由，以及台灣作為一個民主國家的未來。我們向 林義雄，與他正在奮鬥目標，表達我們台美人對其堅定的支持。我們也向馬英九總統敦促，政府應當依循民主原則對 林義雄和社會大眾做出回應。