Wed, Oct 13, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Legislators scuffle over arms budget

CONTROVERSIAL DEAL A pan-blue politician attacked two pan-green lawmakers after they pointed out that the deal to buy US weapons was formulated by the KMT

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

PFP Legislator Liu Wen-hsiung, left, and DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chuang fight at the Legislative Yuan as Lee attacked the PFP's stance on the massive arms procurement plan yesterday. The purchase plan eventually failed to be listed on the agenda for this legislative session.

PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUAN, TAIPEI TIMES

Once again, violence marred the Legislative Yuan yesterday, as legislators exchanged shoves and blows over the statute governing the NT$610.8 billion special arms budget in the Procedure Committee.

The prospect for the statute to be approved before the legislative elections now looks grim, since the legislature is likely to go into recess early this session, possible at the beginning of November, so candidates have time to run their campaigns.

Still, even if the statute makes it through the Procedure Committee next week, there will only be two or three weeks remaining for the statute to be reviewed.

To counterbalance the Cabinet's version, which allows the government to prepare a special budget for the deal, the People First Party (PFP) offered its own version, which stipulates that the deal must be included within the regular annual budget.

Prior to the commencement of the Procedure Committee yesterday, Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) visited Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to discuss the PFP's version.

According to an official present at the meeting, Lee said the government might not be able to include the arms deal in the annual budget, since the amount would eat up the budget for other programs. Lee said the PFP's version was unfeasible. But Lee and Wang's meeting did not result in any concrete plan for how to approach the issue.

To push through the statute, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) yesterday carried some posters to the Procedure Committee to highlight that the arms deal had been agreed to during the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) adminstration.

Lee also highlighted PFP Legislator Nelson Ku's (顧崇廉) conflicting roles as former chief of the navy -- when he supported the deal -- and incumbent opposition lawmaker -- who now opposes the deal.

"We cannot have a discussion derived from professionalism and rationality, when we see KMT Chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) and Ku's completely different positions then and now," Lee said.

Lee and his fellow DPP Legislator Chen Tsung-yi (陳宗義) held up the posters in the committee, but their act angered PFP caucus whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄).

Liu crossed the room and tried to tackle both men, but other legislators separated the trio. Lee and Liu then exchanged heated words, but no further physical conflicts ensued.

In related news, both the PFP and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucuses proposed in the Procedure Committee yesterday that the legislature invite President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for a state-of-the-nation address.

The PFP's proposal also stipulated that the president should take and answer questions from lawmakers after the address.

But both proposals failed to make it through the committee.

This story has been viewed 5306 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top