Thu, Nov 14, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Legislator, labor activist scuffle at press conference

LABOR STRIFE DPP legislative whip Wang Tuoh tried to pour oil on troubled waters, but the attempt merely sparked another public flareup


A DPP legislator and a labor activist were both marched out of a press conference at the Legislative Yuan by police officers yesterday. The incident happened after the activist threw a piece of paper at the legislator, who had just announced that he stood by allegations he made Sunday against two labor organizations.

Branding the two DPP legislators Lee Ming-hsien (李明憲) and Lee Chen-nan (李鎮楠) "McCarthyites," for accsuing organizers of a workers demonstration of "working for China," some 30 members of the Committee for Action for Labor Legislation (CFALL), (工人立法行動委員會) had gone to the Legislative Yuan yesterday to demand apologies.

They were received by DPP legislative whip Wang Tuoh (王拓) who told the delegation that he did not agree with the accusations made by the two Lees and had therefore decided to call an impromptu press conference at the legislature. He said he hoped the two sides would be able to discuss their differences.

Any hopes of a reconciliation, however, were immediately dashed when Lee Ming-hsien chose to speak first and declined to apologize for his Sunday remarks. He explained that he was not accusing the majority of workers; but he was accusing Wang Juan-ping (王娟萍) -- the secretary-general of the Chinese Federation of Labor (CFL) -- of being close to the Chinese government.

But Lee's comments upset one of the CFALL members, Wang Yao-tze (王耀梓), who tried to remove the microphone from Lee Ming-hsien and threw a piece of paper at him.

The two were immediately seized by a number of police officers and removed from the room. The press conference broke up shortly afterward.

Some 30 police officers were present at the event.

The CFALL delegation, speaking to reporters outside the legislature, apologized for the incident.

"We are sorry for what we did, but they should apologize for what they said," said Ho Yian-tang (何燕堂), director-general of the CFALL.

However, the two legislators told an afternoon press conference that they wouldn't accept the apology.

In fact, the two legislators reiterated that they stood by their accusations and said they would welcome the CFALL to file a lawsuit against them. However, they again declined to substantiate the accusations.

The CFALL said that it would respond to the two legislators' remarks at a press conference to be held today.

Wang Tuoh, meanwhile, told reporters that the two legislators' remarks were "inappropriate" and had been made by the men as private individuals. He said they did not reflect the view of the DPP legislative caucus, which, he added, would have nothing more to do with the issue.

The CFALL and CFL have traditionally had closer relations with the DPP than with other political parties. However a rift has developed between the DPP and the labor movement since the DPP formed its first administration in 2000.

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