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Sat, Oct 14, 2000 - Page 4 News List

Legislature acts to plug press leaks

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers who allegedly leaked to the press details of a closed-door meeting on Wednesday were condemned in a resolution passed by the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

"Legislators are fully aware of the rules for closed-door meetings and whoever leaks details should be condemned. Hopefully this will make the individuals concerned behave themselves," said KMT Legislator Chen Horng-chi (陳鴻基), who is chairman of the Legislative Yuan's Discipline Committee.

Wednesday's meeting, which was called by the legislature's Budget Committee, discussed the budgets of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defense and National Security Bureau, according to reports.

Half way through the meeting, reporters waiting outside the meeting room had already got wind of what was discussed inside -- that Minister of Foreign Affairs Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂) had told lawmakers Taiwan was seeking diplomatic ties with "five to 10 countries" including Bolivia and Ecuador.

The information was allegedly passed to the press by lawmakers.

Publicizing the name of a potential ally doesn't usually happen because of the sensitivity of the situation. China has a policy of international isolation against Taiwan. Currently, only 29 countries maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

"China's suppression will follow once news about a new ally is publicized in advance. Past experience has shown that such a plan would simply `die on exposure,'" DPP Legislator Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) said.

Yang demanded a criminal investigation by justice authorities to determine who was responsible for the leak and said if the situation was allowed to continue it could severely jeopardize Taiwan's security.

"There will be no need for the Chinese to send spies here, because there are already spies in the legislature. China can gain immediate knowledge of Taiwan's confidential budgets, confidential policy planning and confidential meetings," Yang said.

Wang Shih-hsun (王世勛), another DPP legislator, said the incident marked a trend, in which lawmakers abused their privilege of immunity from prosecution.

Yang and Wang said they were ready to file for an interpretation from the Council of Grand Justices on the scope of legislators' immunity.

"It is debatable whether legislators should be protected when they take advantage of their positions and leak national secrets," Yang said.

KMT Legislator Chu Li-luan (朱立倫) said, "The Executive Yuan may be forced to present its confidential reports to the legislature in a more clandestine manner, which in turn will impair the legislature's right to monitor the administrative branch."

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