360° Coverage : Nukes Or No Nukes? Taiwan Searches For Answers

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Nukes Or No Nukes? Taiwan Searches For Answers

May 8 2014, 5:22am CDT | by

Taiwan’s government has cooled anti-nuclear protests by agreeing to stop construction of two reactors at an unfinished power plant. But because the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou rarely...

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12 weeks ago

Nukes Or No Nukes? Taiwan Searches For Answers

May 8 2014, 5:22am CDT | by

Taiwan’s government has cooled anti-nuclear protests by agreeing to stop construction of two reactors at an unfinished power plant. But because the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou rarely caves to protests – consider its continued resolve to sign deals with China despite occupation of the legislature – the no-nukes camp is raising questions about the change of course. “Whether nuclear power is going forward or not, we haven’t gotten a clear answer,” says Chiu Hua-mei, anti-nuclear activist and assistant sociology professor at National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan.

The tentative conclusion: Ma is putting nuclear power on hold to keep protesters from melting down the ruling Nationalist Party’s odds of winning the 2016 presidential race.

Since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident in Japan after the earthquake of March 2011, tens to hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese have held a series of colorful demonstrations demanding that their island’s $9.3 billion fourth plant stop after 15 years of off-again, on-again construction. Taiwan is prone to earthquakes, they say, and the 23 million population is too dense to withstand an accident. Now the no-nukes movement is mainstream. Neighborhood cafes in Taipei give away no-nukes stickers, and some people walking down the streets on normal days sport the protest campaign’s signature black-and-yellow armbands or bandanas. From 55% to 70% of Taiwanese oppose nuclear power, surveys have found. The government couldn’t pretend the issue was a marginal one.

After three days of late April protests that rallied tens of thousands behind a former opposition party chairman’s hunger strike, the cabinet suddenly said work on the unfinished nuclear plant’s first reactor would stop and would go into “protective storage” after safety checks. Work on a second reactor will be stopped, the cabinet said, and whether to resume will depend on the results of a voter referendum. The government froze construction to “keep energy options open for the next generation,” it said in an April 28 statement, citing Premier Jiang Yi-huah.

“Presently, many people who take an anti-nuclear-energy stance do not believe the (No. 4 power plant) is safe and are demanding the immediate abrogation of the facility,” the statement says. “However, studies received by government agencies show that scrapping (the plant) and terminating operations of the nation’s first three nuclear plants would have severe ramifications for Taiwan’s energy supply.” About 12% of Taiwan’s power comes from nuclear energy.

No-nuke advocates have left the streets to seek meaning in the premier’s comments. They want to know how government-run utility company Taiwan Power will ensure safety of the first reactor and pay for preserving it. Money for preservation might be better spent developing the island’s mere trickle of renewable energy, the advocacy group National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform says. The power company may also expand one of Taiwan’s three existing plants, the anti-nuclear platform fears. Taiwan Power advocates nuclear energy as a cleaner, cheaper alternative to fossil fuel imports, the majority source today. “Our interpretation of the government’s statement is that the option for nuclear energy is not completely ruled out, although the construction of nuke 4 was halted,” a spokeswoman for the platform said in a statement for this blog.

But more than anything, no-nuke activists want answers about the prospect of a referendum. Passing a ballot initiative in Taiwan requires turnout of half the eligible voters followed by a majority vote in favor. As loud as the anti-nuclear cause is, no small number of Taiwanese are quietly apathetic about the issue, killing prospects of a 50% turnout. Opposition leaders, who are allied with the no-nuke movement, want laws changed to make a referendum easier. “Whether there will be enough voter turnout to make the referendum valid, that has been the (government’s) major point of contention with the opposition,” says Raymond Wu, managing director of Taipei-based political risk consultancy e-telligence.

A continued impasse on the referendum law would mean no ballot initiative until at least 2016, the opposition’s next chance to take the presidency and a legislative majority.

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was to ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was brok ...
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Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected b ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ i ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
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5

8 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over R ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

8 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Must ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
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3

8 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an alloc ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
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2

8 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar S ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
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1

8 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Sk ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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