Wed, Oct 05, 2005 - Page 1 News List

DPP, PFP trade insults over arms bill

MUDSLINGING The two caucuses had barbed comments for each other after the pan-blue dominated Procedure Committee blocked the arms bill for the 31st time

BY KO SHU-LING  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday locked horns with the People First Party (PFP) yesterday over the long-stalled arms procurement plan, with the DPP calling the PFP a "gangster ring" and the PFP painting the DPP as an "evil empire."

The two camps' name-calling came after the pan-blue-dominated Procedure Committee blocked the US-arms procurement bill for the 31st time.

The confirmation of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) nominees for the Control Yuan and the party asset bill also failed to pass the committee.

The committee voted in favor of tabling the stymied arms procurement bill along with 17 other bills proposed by the DPP and its small ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU).

Frustrated by the pan-blue camp's ongoing obstructionism, DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) described the PFP as a "gangster ring" that is extorting the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) with the party asset bill.

That bill is designed to compel the KMT to return its stolen party assets to the public and state coffers.

The PFP has threatened to push the party asset bill through for legislative review if the KMT breaks ranks with it on the arms bill, which the PFP adamantly opposes.

"The PFP's audacity makes people sick to their stomach and boil with anger," Lai said. "Although political parties and lawmakers should make public and national interests their first priority, the PFP is using the KMT's good intentions as a bargaining advantage to kidnap and extort its long-term political ally."

Lai called on KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to stand tough in the face of the PFP's intimidation, and said there should not be any legislative bargaining within the pan-blue camp on the essential security legislation.

DPP Legislator Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) called into question the function of the Procedure Committee, saying that the committee does not have the right to encroach on the prerogative of the other legislative committees and plenary sessions.

While the Procedural Committee's job is to set the legislative agenda, Hsu said that it is the responsibility of the legislative committees and plenary sessions to discuss the details of bills.

Dismissing the DPP's allegation as "unacceptable," PFP Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) responded by calling the DPP an "evil empire."

In addition to reiterating his caucus' opposition to what he called the "irrational" arms procurement plan, Chang called on Ma to offer a clear-cut explanation of whether the KMT will support the arms bill after the year-end elections, as has been speculated.

He also challenged the DPP to a public debate over the arms procurement package.

Chang said that his caucus has drawn up a different version to counter the DPP's proposal, but he remained tight-lipped about details, saying that he does not want to mislead the public into believing that his caucus supports the arms procurement plan.

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