Thu, Sep 08, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Pan-blues a disloyal opposition

Once again, the pan-blue dominated Procedure Committee blocked the arms procurement bill from being placed on the legislative agenda.

At the meeting Tuesday in advance of the new legislative session starting next week, the committee also stonewalled on the confirmation of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) Control Yuan nominees, the retirement-fund bill and the amendment to the State-Owned Properties Law (國有財產法), voting to keep them off the agenda for the session that begins next Tuesday.

This replay of the same stale scene at the Procedure Committee leads one to wonder whether the opposition will ever realize what it means to be the "loyal opposition," and whether it can prioritize the national interest.

A glance at the US Senate's recent response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster puts Taiwan's opposition to shame. The Senate last Thursday night convened an emergency session to approve an US$10.5 billion emergency budget request from the Bush administration for relief for victims of the disaster. The emergency money was unanimously approved.

In comparison, the pan-blue camp consisting of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) having continuously blocked policy initiatives launched by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government regardless of their urgency. They seem to enjoy their slim majority in the 225-seat legislature and use it to serve their party interests rather than serving the public, whose votes sent them to the Legislature Yuan in the first place.

In the face of China's rise, especially its military expansion, Taiwan must beef up its self-defense capabilities.

Yet, due to the opposition from the pan-blue camp, the budget for arms procurement has been blocked for two consecutive legislative sessions, on 26 separate occasions, according to President Chen.

In a goodwill gesture to the opposition parties, the government has adjusted the arms bill by funding the Patriot anti-missile batteries from the regular budget instead of from the special budget, as originally proposed.

But the opposition continues to be hogtied by political gamesmanship, and lets party interests push it as far as to sabotage Taiwan's national defense in the face of Beijing's growing military threats.

KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has pledged to lead his party to victory in 2008 and regain the Presidential Office. Yet his fellow pan-blue camp members are rejecting the government's proposed bills and policies without even giving them a chance to at least make it onto the legislature agenda for reasonable debate and deliberation. Don't they realize what a bad example they're setting for the DPP should it again become the opposition, and the KMT become the governing party?

After their meeting yesterday at KMT headquarters in Taipei, Ma and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) jointly stated their preference for blocking the US arms package, with Soong saying that the PFP "will certainly not let this wasteful weapons purchase pass during this session."

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), a KMT heavyweight, said recently that the legislature should begin to deal with the arms procurement bill when the new session open. Apparently, Ma and Soong don't yet see eye to eye with Wang on the issue.

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