Wed, Sep 07, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Same old tune: KMT blocks arms bill

BOYCOTT The Chinese Nationalist Party may have a new chairman, but events in the legislature's committees have not changed one bit, with key legislation still in limbo


Despite Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng's (王金平) call to push the long-delayed arms-procurement package through to the National Defense Committee for review, the bill yesterday failed once more to pass the Procedure Committee and be placed on the legislative agenda.

Other blocked legislation -- the confirmation of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) Control Yuan nominees and a retirement-fund bill -- also failed to pass the Procedure Committee, which met yesterday morning in advance of the next legislative session starting on Tuesday next week.

The pan-blue-camp dominated committee voted 18 to 12 against the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) proposal to place 18 bills on the legislative agenda.

Lashing out at the continuing boycott by the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) caucuses, DPP Legislator Eva Hsieh (謝欣霓) said that it was unfathomable to her why the opposition parties were going back on their promise to review the arms-procurement bill if some of the package's items were redirected to the annual budget.

DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) yesterday expressed regret over the outcome, and hoped that the opposition parties would change their minds.

"We hope to see a new political climate in the new legislative session," he said.

Further procrastination over arms procurement was bound to sabotage the national interest, Lai said.

He said that Wang had made it clear that it was time to push the bill to the National Defense Committee for review because it had been bogged down in the legislature for too long.

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) came to the defense of the DPP, and called on the public to express its discontent by punishing the KMT and the PFP at the year-end city mayor and county commissioner elections.

"The KMT and PFP are acting so irrationally that what they are doing is seriously affecting the normal functioning of this country," TSU caucus whip Mark Ho (何敏豪) said.

Ho said that the KMT and PFP were in close contact with the Chinese Communist Party, and that they had been boosting efforts to oppose important government bills.

"I'm wondering whether the KMT and PFP have in fact become agents for the Chinese government, whose main goal is to discredit the Taiwanese government," he said.

Meanwhile, Lai attacked the KMT for making "groundless accusations" against the government's eight-year, NT$80 billion flood-control plan.

Criticizing the KMT as "irresponsible" and "irrational," Lai said that KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) owes the DPP an apology for making misleading remarks about the bill.

Ma has described the legislation as "crudely prepared."

"It is disappointing to see Ma mislead the public with such deluding information," Lai said.

"We find their opposition and indifference to the plight of people unacceptable," he said.

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