Wed, Nov 09, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Debate postponed on PFP `peace' bill

SHOWDOWN AVERTED Lawmakers from all parties agreed to put off discussion about the People First Party's controversial `peace advancement' legislation

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Amid protests outside the legislature, lawmakers across party lines yesterday agreed to postpone discussion on the controversial "cross-strait peace advancement bill" (海峽兩岸和平促進法) proposed by the People First Party (PFP) caucus, and to settle the issue through cross-party negotiations.

Revisions to the Law Governing Legislators' Exercise of Power (立法院職權行使法) will also be tackled in cross-party negotiations.

Chanting "PFP and Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] sell out Taiwan," "peace advancement bill is a capitulation bill" and "Long live the Republic of Taiwan," a pro-independence group staged a one-hour peaceful protest outside the legislative compound to oppose the PFP's bill.

Farewell to arms

An anti-arms purchase alliance staged another protest outside the legislature, calling on the lawmaking body to respect public opinion and refrain from reviewing the bill to purchase US arms. The bill has been blocked in committee for months by the pan-blue camp.

Another student group demonstrated to protest what they called the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) suppression of freedom of speech following the TVBS controversy.

Inside the legislature, tension was high as the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) proposed to push forward to discussion its own "anti-invasion peace bill."

DPP lawmakers and their Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) counterparts held banners reading "Fighting to death to safeguard Taiwan, strongly opposing PFP's and KMT's surrender bill" and chanted "anti-invasion," "anti-unification," "anti-annexation" and "anti-surrender."

Ignoring their pleas, the pan-blue dominated legislature voted 106 to 96, with no abstentions, against the TSU's proposition.

When it was time to discuss the peace advancement bill, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) immediately ordered a recess so he could conduct a cross-party negotiation with caucus leaders to discuss the issue.

DPP and TSU lawmakers then rushed to the legislative floor, holding banners and chanting slogans, and asked the PFP to withdraw their proposed bill.

Realizing the difficulty of tackling such a highly sensitive bill before the Dec. 3 local government elections, Wang announced that the PFP's and TSU's bills will be jointly discussed in cross-party negotiations.

Law for lawmakers

Meanwhile, the KMT and PFP managed to place amendments to the Law Governing Legislators' Exercise of Power on yesterday's agenda as the second bill for discussion and planned to force through legal revisions to the second reading.

The bill, however, will also enter the cross-party negotiation process in response to the DPP's request. The bill will not be put to a vote until the four-month negotiation period ends, according to legislative rules.

The pan-blue alliance hopes to push for revisions to the law, which would empower lawmakers to exercise the right of investigation, including summoning the president for questioning in the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) scandal.

Eyeing the lobbyists

Earlier yesterday, the DPP passed a resolution during its caucus meeting yesterday morning, asking Acting Kaohsiung Mayor Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) to make public a list of lobbyists for foreign labor brokerage firms for the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp.

KRTC officials have confirmed that elected officials at the central and local government levels have been involved in the lobbying.

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