Fri, Dec 27, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Legislators blame leaders for crisis

THE CHU SCANDAL Opposition lawmakers yesterday blamed their party leaderships for failing to show firm resolve in the fight against black-gold cases like Chu's

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The election of an indicted businessman as Kaohsiung city council speaker sent ripples through the legislature yesterday as opposition lawmakers blamed their leaders for failing to show firm resolve in the fight against corrupt politics.

Seeking to calm a public outcry, the KMT legislative caucus proposed amending local autonomy rules to allow immediate dismissals of newly elected officials.

On Wednesday, independent Kaohsiung City councilor Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄), who is suspected of plundering his own Feng An Metal Co, was elected as council speaker, thanks to the backing of KMT and PFP colleagues.

Many have blamed the result on successful bribery attempts by Chu. He reportedly paid colleagues NT$15 million each for their vote.

Echoing the call to sack Chu, KMT Legislative Whip Lee Chuan-chia (李全教) suggested revising local autonomy rules under which no elected officials may be dismissed before they serve for a full year.

"Let all who wish to redress the wrong endorse the legal amendment and have it adopted before the end of the legislative session next month," Lee told reporters. "The measure emerges as the only way available to put an end to this mess."

Earlier in the day, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) apologized for failing to prevent fellow Kaohsiung councilors from voting for Chu and vowed to press for his dismissal. The gesture is considered insincere and insufficient as Chu cannot be removed under law.

Lee, who originally planned to quit the KMT, said the party must take a tougher stand to demonstrate its commitment to reform.

"Only by ditching the one-year protection clause can the campaign for Chu's removal be realized right away," he said. The lawmaker added that he will push for a quick second reading of the bill so it may become law before the winter recess.

Fellow colleagues conceded the party's leadership was slow in comparison with their DPP counterparts when dealing with the controversy.

"Anger alone cannot reverse the party's corruption-prone image," said KMT Lawmaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱). "The party must throw out Kaohsiung councilors who took money from Chu before investigators prove their guilt."

Cheng Feng-shih (鄭逢時), another KMT legislator, echoed the view, saying the party appeared lenient, compared to the DPP.

"It is not enough to change a few party officials," Cheng said. "The KMT should suspend its Kaohsiung councilors while waiting for the probe's outcome."

The PFP legislative caucus also voiced disappointment at Chu's election, though party lawmakers disagreed on who to blame.

PFP Legislator Chin Huei-chu (秦慧珠) said the party's chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) missed the opportunity to manage the crisis by staying abroad until after the election was over.

She urged the party not to turn a blind eye to alleged corruption by fellow councilors.

The DPP legislative caucus, though frowning on Chu, expressed reservations about his dismissal through drastic measures.

DPP Legislative Whip Wang Tuoh ( 王拓 ) said he will not back the bill to oust Chu, saying that no law should target any individual.

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