Wed, Nov 10, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Special arms budget blocked by blues again

NATIONAL DEFENSE The pan-blue caucuses successfully prevented the pan-greens from pushing the procurement bill through to legislative committee for the fifth time

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Amid political bickering and protests outside the Legislative Yuan, the pan-blue-dominated Procedure Committee yesterday once again struck down the NT$610.8 billion Special Arms Budget Statute, diminishing the ruling party's hope of pushing it to committee for review before the legislative elections next month.

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Nelson Ku (顧崇廉) said that he was willing to exchange his views with former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to establish the truth about his stance on the arms procurement plan.

Lee had accused Ku for being inconsistent in his stance on the arms procurement deal. Ku is one of the vehement opponents of the plan. Lee claimed that Ku was in favor of the project when he served as the commander-in-chief of the navy during his tenure of presidency.

Other pan-blue lawmakers, including Lin Hui-kuan (林惠官) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator-at-large Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順), took turns expressing their opposition to pushing the budget bill to committee for review.

Well aware of its numerical disadvantage, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) withdrew from the meeting in protest of what it called the pan-blue camp's bullying behavior.

Rumor had it that the KMT caucus was going to allow its members to be absent from the meeting, in order to lower the number of pan-blue lawmakers in the Procedure Committee, thereby allowing the pan-green camp to push the arms statute to committee for review before the legislative elections.

But following the DPP's fifth failed attempt to make progress with the statute at the Procedure Committee yesterday, PFP caucus spokesperson Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) said that the ball is now in the Cabinet's court, because it is up to the Executive Yuan to decide whether to withdraw the special bill and budget request.

Aside from criticising the cost of the deal, the pan-blue caucuses object to the government's attempt to simultaneously propose both the statute that would make the special budget proposal legal and the budget plan itself.

The Executive Yuan, however, made it clear that it is impossible for the government to withdraw the budget request.

It also dismissed the pan-blue's allegation that the Cabinet violated the law by jointly presenting the draft bill and budget request to the legislature.

"It's a groundless accusation," said Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁).

"We proposed the draft bill and budget request in accordance with legislation and budget request procedures. Besides, it's not the first time we have proposed a bill and a budget request together," Chen said.

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