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Hualien Council rejects plan for Freeway referendum

Hualien Council rejects plan for Freeway referendum

The Hualien County Council sent a legal amendment to make a referendum possible about the controversial Su-Hua Freeway back to Hualien County Magistrate Fu Kun-chi yesterday.
The government announced last week it was most likely to choose partial improvements to the existing road rather than build a completely new freeway between Suao in Ilan County and Hualien.
Business interests looking to promote local economic development in sparsely populated Hualien have been at odds for over a decade with environmentalists who fear the freeway is more likely to destroy natural beauty instead of attracting more tourists.
Fu invited County Council Speaker Yang Wen-chih and his deputy Hsu Hsueh-yu to a news conference Monday morning where he said he would not exclude calling a referendum if the government refused to build the freeway.
The central government should be forced to accept local public opinion and stop treating Hualien residents like third-class citizens, Fu said.
However, after Yang returned to the council, members said a county government proposal to amend local legislation in order to allow referendums had been submitted too late. The proposal should not even be discussed by the council, some members said.
A vote resulted in a victory for the opponents with the rejection of the referendum proposal.
The county government said it would submit the proposal again at a council meeting scheduled for January. Its approval would lay the legal base in the event a referendum became necessary, Fu's government said.
The proposal for the legal amendments has been traveling back and forth between county government and council since 2005, reports said.
Fu has repeatedly clashed with the central government. He was first expelled from the ruling Kuomintang because he ran against its official candidate. The freeway referendum was a key element of Fu's campaign.
On the day of his inauguration, he announced he had divorced his wife just three days earlier, allowing him to appoint her his deputy. The Ministry of Interior however decided the divorce was not valid, forcing Fu to rescind his wife's appointment.
Fu was widely believed to be preparing his wife to succeed him in the event he would have to serve in prison after an eventual guilty verdict in a stock manipulation case.


Updated : 2021-05-17 03:05 GMT+08:00