Fri, Apr 13, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Legislature decides to suspend Lo

DISCIPLINE For the first time, legislators voted to punish one of their own as they handed Lo Fu-chu a six-month suspension for attacking Diane Lee

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Legislative Yuan yesterday handed independent legislator Lo Fu-chu (羅福助) a six-month suspension as a punishment for assaulting PFP legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) on March 28.

The decision was made by a vote of 155 to three, with two abstentions, upholding a recommendation issued by the legislature's Discipline Committee on April 3.

The Alliance of Independent Lawmakers caucus, of which Lo is a member, raised a proposal to cut the suspension to three months, but this was rejected.

Lo's suspension marks the first time the legislature has taken disciplinary action against a legislator -- in stark contrast to the roughly 20 cases of misconduct involving legislators that have been left unresolved since 1987.

"We hope the way we handled this case will bring about a change. In other words, the legislature can take this opportunity to turn over a new leaf so that such violence will never be seen again," said speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).

The incident erupted shortly before a meeting of the Education and Culture Committee on March 28. Lee was subsequently hospitalized for three days as a result of minor injuries and a slight concussion.

"I hope that violence will cease here and the legislature will become a rational place. Lawmakers should be free from fear while exercising their duties," Lee said.

Lo did not show up at the legislature yesterday, as had been expected. He instead released a statement through his caucus saying that he would accept whatever punishment was given to him.

"Throughout my political career, I've never taken advantage of my position to gain personal interest. No matter whether the suspension is three months or six months, my service to my constituents won't be affected," Lo said.

Immediately after the violent episode, Lo offered to suspend his participation in the legislature for three months as a self-punishment to "set an example."

But the Discipline Committee decided to ignore Lo's offer and instead recommended the harshest possible punishment as DPP legislators cited Lo's past record of assaulting colleagues.

All major caucuses in the legislature, including the KMT, DPP, PFP and New Party, mobilized their members to attend yesterday's meeting to make sure the punishment was passed. At least one third of the total of 219 legislators needed to be present to achieve the quorum for such a meeting. For a proposed punishment to pass, it must be ratified by the legislature by a two-thirds majority.

Four attending members of the Alliance for Independent Lawmakers, led by Chen Chin-ting (陳進丁), staged a walkout in protest after their request for a secret ballot was turned down, leaving 160 legislators to cast their vote.

The three legislators who voted against the six-month suspension, Lin Ming-i (林明義), Hsu Den-koun (許登宮) and Chou Wu-liu (周五六) -- all from the KMT -- are close friends of Lo. They criticized the legislature's decision as unfair, saying that Lee was not punished for attempting to throw a cup of water at Lo during their quarrel before the assault.

The two legislators who abstained, Lin Hong-tsung (林宏宗) and Chen Chen-hsiung (陳振雄), are also KMT members. Another 55 legislators were absent from the meeting, 44 of them KMT members -- some of whom were believed to have deliberately avoided having to cast their vote.

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