People use flashlights in a street during the blackout that struck Taiwan in August 2017. Photo: Reuters
People use flashlights in a street during the blackout that struck Taiwan in August 2017. Photo: Reuters

A Taiwanese lawmaker has come under fire for suggesting a daily power cut, led by the government after 10pm every night, as a way to tackle the island’s pressing power shortage.

The lawmaker, an obstetrician by training, said the stop-gap measure could make people go to bed earlier and may even lead to benefits such as “a spike in pregnancies”, which could, in turn, alleviate the country’s ageing population woes.

In a Legislative Yuan inquiry session, Lin Jing-yin from the Democratic Progressive Party proposed an orderly, government-planned power cut in some parts of Taiwan from 10pm and into wee hours of the morning when the island’s power plants are hard put to generate enough electricity.

With the heat of the northern summer arriving there is concern that blackouts may strike Taipei and other cities in northern Taiwan, especially when hot weather pushes up demand for power.

Lin went so far as to suggest that TV channels stop 24-hour programs to help people change their lifestyle and save energy, Apple Daily Taiwan reported.

Her remarks drew a hail of criticism and ridicule as netizens questioned if Taiwanese should forgo all modern-day comforts and entertainment when the government has failed to tackle power supply challenges and other livelihood issues.

Lin later clarified that what she said was a “bitter joke” and that the media had taken her words out of the context of the inquiry, which was on the island’s energy security and conservation. But she did appeal to the masses to change their way of life, to be more environmentally friendly and consume less power, adding that she was also upset at the government’s many failures in regard to energy policies.

Resource-poor Taiwan faces a tough choice between nuclear energy and conventional power sources that include highly polluting electricity generation.

That said, the Tsai Ing-wen administration has set a goal to take all of the island’s nuclear reactors offline to be nuclear-free by 2025, a move that the opposition decries as a retrograde step when other nations are investing more in nuclear power and clean energy.

Last August, Taiwan suffered a massive power blackout on one evening that hit businesses and left close to seven million homes sweltering in hot weather. Residents complained as temperatures hovered around 32 degrees Celsius (89.6°F).

The blackout caused havoc for restaurants and small businesses left without power, while traffic lights stopped working and elevators stalled.

Read more: Taipei presses button to restart nuclear reactors