Fri, Mar 22, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Liu case controversy: Tempers flare at budget meeting

NSB SPENDING KMT and PFP lawmakers wasted no time in leading the Budget and Final Accounts Committee in changing topics to discuss NT$3.5 billion in secret funds

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tempers became heated in a meeting of the legislature's Budget and Final Accounts Committee yesterday after the agenda was abruptly changed to review spending by the National Security Bureau.

The committee originally was to discuss budgets for two state-run companies. But the group -- with the support of KMT and PFP lawmakers -- switched topics to the NT$3.5 billion the security bureau had stashed in two secret funds that were beyond legislative oversight.

DPP members said the opposition's attempt to review the National Security Bureau was "unlawful." Opposition members said their DPP colleagues were attempting to block the legislature's constitutional right to oversee the bureau's budget.

After the committee's agenda was changed, several government officials were asked to attend a briefing to answer questions.

They were Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), secretary-general of the National Security Council; Tsai Tsao-ming (蔡朝明), director of the National Security Bureau; Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council; Eugene Chien (簡又新), minister of foreign affairs; and Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟), secretary-general of the Presidential Office.

But most government officials failed to attend the meeting.

DPP lawmakers -- including Chen Chung-shin (陳忠信) and Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) -- said the allegations surrounding the secret funds should be discussed behind closed doors in a joint committee meeting.

They proposed that yesterday's meeting be adjourned without further discussion.

That idea sparked an uproar among the KMT and PFP. KMT lawmakers Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝) and Lin Yi-shih (林益世) accused the DPP of attempting to cover up for the National Security Bureau.

Siding with the DPP, TSU lawmaker Huang Chung-yung (黃宗源) said that "national security comes before everything."

Amid the chaos and rancor, Lin Kuo-hua (林國華), DPP lawmaker and the meeting's chairman, called the meeting to a close.

In a separate meeting of the Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Committee, KMT lawmaker Chen Hung-chang (陳宏昌) also proposed changing yesterday's agenda to discuss the secret funds.

Chen said he wanted to hear from the foreign minister on how the secret funds were used in matters of foreign affairs. Eugene Chien also allegedly has received money from the secret accounts, the lawmaker noted.

But those remarks triggered outrage among DPP members. Party member Lin Chung-mo (林重謨) told Chen that he should stop "insulting a government official."

Independent lawmaker Sisy Chen (陳文茜), the chairwoman of the committee, ordered Lin -- who isn't a member of the group -- to leave, but Lin refused.

The committee eventually decided to ignore Lin and passed Chen Hung-cheng's proposal to change the meeting's agenda.

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