Sat, Jun 29, 2002 - Page 1 News List

TSU struggles to get its story straight

INTERNAL STRIFE Just after one TSU lawmaker sought to tell his version of events surrounding last week's confirmation votes, another asked him why he was lying

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

Haunted by insinuations that its members had put their votes up for sale in last week's legislative vote for top government posts, the TSU was so eager to clarify its position that two of its leading legislators got into a public rift yesterday over their accounts of the events.

The two legislators, Hsu Den-kuon (許登宮) and Cheng Chen-lung (程振隆), tried to downplay the embarrassing episode afterwards, saying that they had lost their tempers because they could no longer stand the mounting public pressure upon them.

Former interior minister Chang Po-ya (張博雅), whose nomination for Examination Yuan vice president was not approved, has said that a group of legislators had asked her for money in exchange for their support for her nomination.

Because some TSU legislators reportedly voted against Chang's nomination last Friday -- which the TSU has not denied -- there is speculation that the legislators who tried to solicit money from Chang were from the TSU.

That speculation has been fed by the fact that certain TSU legislators, under instructions from Cheng, broke contact with their caucus for an entire afternoon and only went to cast their ballots about nine minutes before the deadline.

The hurried manner in which the votes were cast made it impossible for the DPP to check their votes to see if they had voted for the nominees.

Hsu, convener of the TSU legislative caucus, has reportedly been extremely unhappy with Cheng over the matter since last week.

At a press conference in which both Hsu and Cheng were present yesterday, Cheng, who is also the caucus' chief executive, explained that he was having lunch with 10 TSU legislators that afternoon and that is why they were late to vote.

Cheng said he had invited Hsu to the lunch, but Hsu could not come because he felt sick and wanted to rest.

Hsu protested to Cheng about his remarks as soon as the press conference was over. Hsu demanded to know why Cheng had told people that he was sick when it was Cheng who wanted him to stay in the legislature to monitor the vote that afternoon.

Cheng began pounding his fists on a nearby wall, yelling, "Why have you humiliated me?" and "I can't take this defamation any longer."

Before the verbal exchange could continue, Hsu and Cheng were dragged into a room by other legislators who attempted to mediate between the two men.

The TSU yesterday said that the party had never been involved in any attempt to solicit money from the nominees and requested Minis-ter of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) launch an investigation into the case to restore their reputations.

The party said the allegations were rumors started by the KMT and PFP to pave the way for Chang's Kaohsiung mayoral bid.

Lo Chih-ming (羅志明), deputy convener of the TSU caucus, said his party discovered that KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) had sent KMT legislators Wang Chung-yu (王鍾渝) and Huang Ming-hui (黃敏慧) to Chiayi in an attempt to persuade Chang to join the mayoral race after Chang failed in her bid for Examination Yuan vice president.

Lo said PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) had party heavyweight Kao Tsu-min (高資敏) visit Chang for the same purpose.

As Chang needed to find a way to justify her mayoral bid, the KMT and PFP had conspired to come up with a plan to smear the "pan green" camp with the vote-buying allegations, Lo said.

In response to the TSU's comments, James Chen (陳健治), director-general of the KMT's Organization and Development Committee, said it would be impossible for the KMT to support Chang's bid to run for Kaohsiung mayor, when there are already four people vying for the KMT-PFP joint candidacy.

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