Taiwan Life in Brief – December 2018

Referendum Extends Use of Nuclear Energy

In one of the 10 referendums that were also on the November 24 ballot, a substantial majority voted to overturn an article in the Electricity Act requiring Taiwan to terminate all nuclear power generation by 2025. Executive Yuan spokesperson Kolas Yotaka said that in accordance with that result, the government would no longer regard 2025 as the deadline for phasing out nuclear power. Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin said that a revised national energy plan would be formulated within two months. He also said that the Ministry would suspend applications to the Atomic Energy Commission for decommissioning the existing nuclear plants according to their original schedules.

Another referendum lent support to anti-gay-rights organizations’ efforts to block the legalization of same-sex marriage. However, the constitutional court’s May 2017 ruling that same-sex couples have the right to marry still stands. The court gave the legislature two years to pass the necessary legislation.

The voters defeated a referendum that would have required Taiwan sports teams to compete in the Olympics and other international contests under name “Taiwan” rather than “Chinese Taipei” as now. Given China’s tough stance on the issue, it was clear that passage of the resolution would deny Taiwanese athletes the ability to take part in many international events.

New Railroad Safety Measures Adopted

In the wake of the deadly train accident in Yilan in October, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication has announced a series of measures to fix the problems believed to be responsible for the accident in which 18 people died and some 200 were injured. In the incident, a Puyama Express derailed while going into a curve at twice the allowed speed. Design flaws have already been corrected in all similar trains to ensure that the dispatch control room can properly monitor the onboard speed-control systems, the Ministry said. Other changes will be made during a comprehensive upgrade to be completed next year.