Wed, Mar 30, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Pan-blues block special arms budget

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The special arms procurement bill failed yet again to pass the legislature's Procedure Committee yesterday, the second attempt since the government adjusted the arms budget downward from the original NT$610.8 billion to NT$480 billion.

However, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus managed to push its anti-invasion peace bill (反侵略和平法) and technology protection bill (科技保護法) to committees for review.

The People First Party (PFP) also successfully moved forward the draft statute regarding the facilitation of peace across the Taiwan Strait (促進海峽兩岸和平法) to the interior committee for review, with the backing of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The pan-blue-dominated Procedure Committee agreed to push the TSU's anti-invasion peace bill and the technology protection bill to committees for review, in exchange for the TSU's withdrawal of a bill regarding the disposition of assets improperly obtained by civil associations (人民團體不當取得財產處理條例) from the committee's agenda.

The anti-invasion peace bill says that the government should call a referendum and amend the Constitution to safeguard Taiwan's sovereignty if the cross-strait status quo is threatened. In addition, the bill would allow the president to use "non-peaceful means" to respond to a Chinese attack.

Commenting on the opposition camp's boycotting the arms procurement bill, DPP Legislator Chuang Suo-han (莊碩漢) said that such a move is not necessary and there is no reason for pan-blue lawmakers to do so, especially in the light of the enactment of China's "Anti-Secession" Law.

"In the face of the war bill [the Anti-Secession Law] and China's military threats, we should show our determination to defend ourselves by passing the arms budget," Chuang said.

"I'm calling on the Procedure Committee to push the budget bill to the defense and budget committees for review and let committee members conduct substantial discussions of the bill."

DPP Legislator Kao Chien-chih (高建智) called on opposition parties to put aside political differences and keep the national interest and security in mind.

"The Ministry of National Defense has reported on various occasions and on different aspects of the arms budget to the legislature's defense committee," he said. "It's time to send the bill to committee for further debates."

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), however, said that his caucus will not agree to push the arms bill to committees for review unless the budget is earmarked as an annual one, rather than a special one.

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lee Yung-ping (李永萍) proposed that the Executive Yuan withdraw the arms bill and earmark the budget as part of the national defense ministry's annual budget, to avoid the committees' review of the bill as a special budget.

DPP caucus whip Lai Ching-teh (賴清德) said that his caucus has not and will not boycott any bill proposed by the other legislative caucuses, except for pork-barrel bills proposed by individual lawmakers. Under this policy, the DPP caucus yesterday threw its backing behind a draft statute regarding the facilitation of peace across the Taiwan Strait proposed by the PFP.

The draft mandates the establishment of a 17-member committee and appointment of several "peace ambassadors" to address 11 cross-strait policy issues.

They include signing an agreement about direct transportation links, the establishment of a demilitarized zone, the inking of an accord to protect China-based Taiwanese businesspeople, the setting up of a cross-strait free trade zone, the holding of a cross-strait summit and the signing of a peace accord with China.

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