[EDITORIALS]No rush to vote in BuanWhether or not to hold a referendum of the residents of Buan, North Jeolla province, over the construction of a nuclear waste disposal facility in that region has emerged as a point of debate. The vote is said to be an alternative, as the government is neither promoting the construction plan nor withdrawing it. The government and the residents are at loggerheads over the timing of the vote -- before the end of the year or not.
When the government promotes a large scale project that can affect people’s daily life and property rights, the policy for that project must reflect the opinion of the residents in the affected areas. A referendum, if it is well managed, encourages residents to participate and contribute to the resolution of regional conflicts. In advanced countries, like the United States and Switzerland, various forms of referendums have been adopted.
Despite such preparations, however, the side effects of the vote will be serious if it is a means of solving the Buan problem without going through the procedures to hear public opinion. The way the Buan issue is resolved will set a precedence for government policy promotion. Under the present situation, where the trend of not in my back yard prevails, if major national projects, like creating a landfill, or constructing a power plant, dam or highway, are left to a vote, proper promotion might not happen. The waste of money and manpower and the paralysis of the administration would be serious.
In the case of Buan, if the referendum is held while the emotions of residents are charged to the extreme, the result could be swayed by emotional reaction rather than by reasonable judgement.
Therefore, the creation of an atmosphere that eases confrontation is urgent to cool emotions and restore order before a referendum is held. The government needs time to elucidate its position, explaining the merits and demerits of the waste disposal facility and the plan to support the development of the area where the facility will be constructed. During the course of such a procedure, if both sides agree on a vote then they can have one. But it should be the final option.