(June 3, 1994) On May 22, 58% of the residents of Kungliao, in Taipei County, voted in a referendum on the building of the NT$ 116 billion (US$4,750 million) nuclear power plant. More than 96% of those who turned out for the vote cast their ballots against the plant.
(413.4097) WISE Amsterdam - Kungliao Township chief Chao Kuo-tung said the result showed that Kungliao's people do not want the plant to be built in their backyard.
Minister of Economic Affairs of Taiwan Chiang Pinkung said the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant is the set policy of the government that has been approved by the Legislative Yuan, and that it is impossible to change this.
He said his ministry will actively seek support from legislators and communicate with the residents of Kungliao Township in order to make the construction plan go through smoothly. He added that electricity is important for the development of the nation and the economy.
Chang Szemin, president of the Taiwan Power Company, which has invited French and U.S. firms to bid for the contract, said the company would not accept the result of the plebiscite since it did not reflect the opinion of all 21 million residents in Taiwan. "Taipower will continue to communicate with the residents and tell them the importance of building the plant," he said. The plan has triggered numerous protests from anti-nuclear activists since it was first proposed in 1984. Some of the protests have turned into bloody riots, with one policeman killed and more than 100 people, including police, injured.
Opposition legislators said after the plebiscite they would push for a legislature meeting to freeze the budget of the proposed plant and promised "violent action" if ruling Kuomintang legislators attempted to boycott the motion. Last year the Legislature passed the NT$ 116 billion budget for the construction of the plant.
Minister Chiang said he and two top Taipower executives will all resign to take responsibility if the budget plan is rejected by lawmakers. Liu Tai-ying, president of the Taiwan General Re-search Institute, warned of possible perils if the plant is not built. Basically, he said, the industrial policy is the energy policy. If the public cannot act rationally in dealing with the plant, but continues to be emotional by bloc-king major construction projects here, Taiwan will face economic recession such as in Latin America and the Philippines.
Vincent Siew, Chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, said last year each individual consumed an average of 4,927 kilo-watts of energy, and by the year 2000 the consumption will reach 7,000 kilo-watts. The important role played by electricity is irreplaceable, he said. A survey by the Gallup Organization released the day after the plebiscite showed that 57.8% of the 2,530 respondents nationwide support the construction, with 19.5% opposed and the rest expressing no opinion.
Source: China Economic News Service, Greenbase 24 May, 1994
Contact: Duncan Marsh, The Asian Ecological Society, Box 843, Thungai University, Taichung, Taiwan 40704. Tel & Fax: +886 4 359 5622.