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Sat, Oct 28, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers sharpen their knives

NUCLEAR FALLOUT Opposition legislators have called the Cabinet's decision to scrap the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant unconstitutional and have vowed to retaliate

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

A new round of political turmoil is fomenting in the legislature following the Executive Yuan's announcement yesterday to scrap the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project.

Lawmakers from the KMT, People First Party and New Party yesterday unanimously petitioned the Control Yuan to impeach Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) and relevant officials over the decision -- which they insist is unconstitutional and illegal.

While the KMT and New Party can still block passage of the 2001 budget in protest, the PFP yesterday started a signature campaign in preparation for a no-confidence vote against Chang's Cabinet.

Still, some KMT legislators are ready to resort to an old trick that was adopted by DPP politicians in the past -- to bar the premier's scheduled presentation to the legislature. They are also considering launching a drive to recall President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

"By stopping the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project at will, despite the fact that it is already 33-percent complete, the Executive Yuan is turning a blind eye to the validity of a budget passed by the legislature," said Hong Yuh-chin (洪玉欽), executive director of the KMT's Policy Committee, who acts as whip of the majority KMT caucus in the legislature.

Opposition politicians have argued that the Executive Yuan has no right to discontinue the plant's budget unilaterally -- even if it decides to scrap the plant -- because the legislature passed a budget for the project in 1994 and reconfirmed it in 1996.

"A reversal of the policy must be approved by the legislature. The Executive Yuan cannot reverse it unilaterally," New Party caucus convener Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said.

Both Lai and Hong concurred that Chang's unilateral announcement indicates that "it's meaningless for the legislature to review the budget at all."

Reaction from KMT lawmakers to Chang's announcement was especially strong, as it had come immediately after a high-profile meeting between KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and the president, in which Chen promised to consider the KMT's proposal to keep the project.

Hong called the premier "two-faced" and "a complete cheat."

Hong warned of confrontation between the legislative and administrative branches as mutual trust disintegrates.

"Inter-party negotiations will be very difficult and the DPP government is fully responsible for the consequences," Hong said.

Members of the Generation-E Alliance (e世代問政聯盟), a KMT faction within the legislature, announced that they would block Chang's scheduled presence at the legislature next week.

Chang is set to accept interpellation from lawmakers on Tuesday and make an oral presentation on Friday on the central government's budget for fiscal 2001.

"We will mobilize people to prevent a premier -- who pays no respect to the legislature, the people or the law -- from stepping into the Legislative Yuan," said KMT legislator and alliance chairman Chen Horng-chi (陳鴻基).

Chen also said that the president deserves to be recalled for treating Lien in such a "mean manner" and disregarding the meeting's potentially beneficial impact on political stability.

Meanwhile, the 19-member PFP caucus' proposal to launch a no-confidence vote against Chang's Cabinet failed to gain steam yesterday.

Both the KMT and New Party said they believe the people are not ready for the political instability that would be triggered by such a vote.

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