Tue, Mar 26, 2002 - Page 3 News List

PFP, KMT legislators fail to force committees to look at NSB funds

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

A legislative tumult erupted again yesterday over secret National Security Bureau (NSB) funds, as opposition lawmakers made a fresh attempt to force legislative committees to discuss the spending of the funds.

But the attempt failed due to the efforts of well-prepared DPP and TSU legislators. The two parties mobilized their lawmakers so that they would outnumber their rivals on the committees in case of a ballot.

PFP lawmaker Hsieh Chang-chieh (謝章捷) proposed switching the agenda of the Budget and Final Accounts Committee to the NSB issue soon after its meeting started.

The committee's meeting last Thursday was dismissed amid a dispute over changing the agenda.

"We must investigate the responsibility of concerned officials if irregularities are involved in the case. It's no use for you [DPP lawmakers] to cover up for it," Hsieh said.

Hsieh's proposal drew immediate objections from the DPP on the grounds that state secrets must be protected.

DPP lawmaker Cheng Tsao-min (鄭朝明) insisted that only the president and a minority of his confidants should have access to state secrets, and the legislature should only review such topics after they have been declassified.

Charles Chiang (江昭儀), another DPP lawmaker, expressed the fear that -- in light of their close contacts with Beijing -- some opposition lawmakers would leak confidential information to China.

As the debate continued, KMT lawmaker Her Jyh-huei (何智輝), who chaired yesterday's meeting, tried holding inter-party negotiations to settle the dispute.

But the DPP and TSU, which controlled the majority at the meeting, would not accept Her's proposition and insisted that a ballot be taken.

Her eventually decided to proceed with yesterday's meeting according to its original agenda.

Unwilling to give up the fight, Hsieh filed a committee proposal requiring the case be put on the committee's agenda this week.

The DPP, which controls two of the total of three convenerships on the committee, vowed to continue to block opposition plans.

DPP legislative caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said what lawmakers should do is to work to institutionalize the NSB, rather than taking advantage of an opportunity to put on a political show.

At the Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Committee, KMT lawmaker Cheng Hung-chang (陳宏昌) also proposed changing the agenda to discuss the secret funds, but the proposal was set aside due to a lack of a quorum.

Also yesterday, PFP lawmakers Lin Te-fu (林德福) and Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) introduced a draft of a national intelligence supervision law.

According to the draft, the legislature would set up an intelligence supervisory committee that would have the power to conduct hearings, subpoena witnesses and require the production of documents from the necessary government agencies and officials.

Members of the committee would have to sign an agreement to keep the information secret, the draft stipulates.

In the case of a breach of the agreement, the concerned lawmaker would be suspended from office and subjected to treason and charges for disclosing secrets under the Criminal Code, the draft states.

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