Nuclear Plant Four and Taiwan Independence:
The DPP Owes the Public Two Referenda
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
April 7, 2011
A Referendum on Nuclear Plant Number Four is one of the DPP's key policy proposals. But the two times the DPP made a major decision on the Nuclear Plant Number Four, it could not be bothered to seek public approval. Instead, it made its decisions unilaterally, simply because it had the power to do so. The first time was in 2000, when President Chen Shui-bian halted the project. The second time was when Tsai Ing-wen announced that if elected president, she would call for a halt to the commercial operation of Nuclear Plant Number Four.
The Referendum on Nuclear Plant Number Four touches upon two issues. First, the DPP considers terminating commercial operation of Nuclear Plant Number Four justified substantively. Secondly, the DPP considers a public referendum conducted in a democratic fashion justified procedurally. Such approaches strike one as fair. They are not being promoted by the ruling party. Therefore they must meet with public approval before they can be adopted.
In 2000, when Chen Shui-bian halted construction on Nuclear Plant Number Four, he reneged on his promise to first seek a public referendum. He ordered construction halted on the project without first obtaining public approval via a referendum. Where was the legitimacy in his move? Furthermore, following a constitutional review, the Council of Grand Justices concluded that the president had exceeded his authority. Now Tsai Ing-wen wants to halt commercial operation on Nuclear Plant Number Four. This too, raises two questions. First, if the halt is merely temporary, what is the point? If the halt is permanent, it is the same as decommissioning it. In that case, why bother finishing it at all? Secondly, whether the halt is temporary or permanent, it amounts to a major policy decision. Is the president authorized to make such a decision on his own? Shouldn't a decision to halt construction or commercial operation on Nuclear Plant Number Four be submitted to the people for a referendum, in accordance with the DPP's promises?
Chen Shui-bian reneged on his promise to hold a referendum on Nuclear Plant Number Four, Now Tsai Ing-wen is doing the same thing. The DPP legislative caucus' call for a referendum is mere posturing. If it really intended to fulfill its commitment. it should have initiated a public referendum, instead of merely making demands within the Legislative Yuan, Tsai Ing-wen said"It is too early to talk about a referendum." Such an attitude casts serious doubt on her stated commitment to a referendum.
Tsai Ing-wen has painted herself into a corner. She initially considered Nuclear Plant Number Four a hot button issue, one with which she could incite Blue vs. Green political passions. She opportunistically suggested "continuing construction, but halting commercial operations." In effect, she decommissioned Nuclear Plant Four in fact but not in name. But if she is decommissioning Nuclear Plant Number Four in fact, why isn't she fulfilling her commitment to hold a referendum? Surely the DPP is not reneging on its promises?
Recently, Tsai Ing-wen began pulling her punches. She even changed the subject, and began talking about renewable energy. She said "We are merely making a modest call for a 4% increase in the use of renewable energy." This was transparent subterfuge. Leave aside the question of practicability. The issue is bogus. Nobody is against a 4% increase in the use of renewable energy. The real issue is, what does a 4% increase in the use of renewable energy have to do with "halting commercial operation of Nuclear Plant Number Four?" What does it have to do with a Referendum on Nuclear Plant Four? The DPP clearly hopes to stir up the pot for the sake of votes. It has no respect for public opinion. But absent a referendum on Nuclear Plant Number Four, what right would "President Tsai" have to order a halt on commercial operations?
The DPP owes the public a Referendum on Nuclear Plant Number Four. It also owes the public another referendum, namely, on on Taiwan independence. The Taiwan Independence Party Platform calls for "the founding of a sovereign and independent Republic of Taiwan, and the authoring of a new constitution. These issues must be referred to the inhabitants of Taiwan for a decision via public referendum." This is what is known as a Taiwan independence referendum. But the DPP insists that "Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation." The DPP also holds rallies, during which it proclaims that "the ROC is a sovereign and independent nation." At these rallies, Taiwan independence flags fill the air. But not a single ROC flag can be found. The "one nation on each side connection" is emerging as one of the party's newest factions. Frank Hsieh's "half a consensus on the constitution," meanwhile, is unable to reach a consensus. Chen Shui-bian was in power for eight years. As president he demanded Taiwan independence, demanded the rectification of names, and demanded the authoring of a new constitution. So why didn't he hold a Taiwan independence referendum?
As we can see, the DPP merely wishes to exploit Taiwan independence passions.It merely wishes to incite political divisions for the sake of votes. It has no respect for public opinion. Absent a Referendum on Taiwan independence, how can it assert that "Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation?" Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang have been on the nation's payroll for years. Were their salaries issued to them by a "Nation of Taiwan," rather than the Republic of China? How long must we endure this kind of "backdoor listing," this kind of "brood parasitism," this kind of "self deception and deception of others?"
The DPP has long avoided a Referendum on Nuclear Plant Number Four and a Referendum on Taiwan independence. In 2004, Chen Shui-bian threatened to promote a Referendum a Nuclear Plant Number Four. In the end however, he retreated into his shell. Chen Shui-bian openly vetoed Trong Chai's Taiwan independence referendum bill. Absent any such public referenda, calls for decommissioning Nuclear Plant Number Four and a calls for a declaration of Taiwan independence lack legitimacy. The DPP owes the public two referenda. For decades it has relentlessly demagogued two issues -- Nuclear Plant Number Four and Taiwan independence. Can it really boast that it is "using reason to strengthen democracy?"
Nor is this the end of the matter. Tsai Ing-wen declared that If she is elected president, whether to abolish ECFA "may also be put to a public referendum."