Fri, Nov 07, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Fists fly as lawmakers argue over meeting

POLITICAL BRAWL Legislators came to blows yesterday in a dispute over a meeting of the National Security Bureau to discuss the NT$3.7 billion secret fund scandal

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP legislators Kuo Chun-ming, second from right, and Kuo Jung-tsung, in front, struggle with their PFP colleague Chung Shao-ho, third right, during a meeting of the legislature's defense committee yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

A fistfight broke out between pan-blue and pan-green lawmakers yesterday during an argument over a meeting about a secret fund of the National Security Bureau (NSB), which was scheduled for the same day as a meeting of the legislature's defense committee.

Five lawmakers were involved in the fight. They included four members of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and one People First Party (PFP) Legislator. The DPP belongs to the pan-green camp and the PFP to the pan-blue camp.

It was the first clash of such magnitude at a meeting of the defense committee. Minor scuffles have occurred in the past.

Yesterday's fracas resulted from a difference of opinion over holding a meeting about a secret NSB fund that existed during the term of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). The existence of the NT$3.7 billion fund was exposed three years ago after an NSB official who had been responsible for managing the money fled the country with NT$192 million in interest generated from the fund.

Lawmakers of the pan-green camp argued that the meeting could not be held yesterday, because it is against the legislature's rules to hold a committee meeting on the same day as a general meeting of the legislature.

The defense committee had arranged to hold a meeting yesterday on the insistence of pan-blue lawmakers, despite the legislature's general meeting, which had also been slated for yesterday. The defense committee originally did not have any meeting scheduled for yesterday, but its schedule had been changed on Monday by the blue camp. This prompted lawmakers of the DPP and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) to lodge a protest prior to the opening of yesterday's meeting of the defense committee.

Pan-blue lawmakers, mainly from the PFP, reacted strongly to the protest. They insisted that the general meeting should take preference, since the matters under discussion should have been completed on Tuesday, but the pan-green camp had deliberately postponed the meeting until yesterday.

PFP lawmaker Chung Shao-ho (鍾紹和) was accused of starting the fight by pulling down a protest sign which a DPP lawmaker held in his hands in an attempt to stop the committee meeting from taking place.

Three other DPP lawmakers, including Kuo Wen-chen (郭玟成), Kuo Jung-tsung (郭榮宗) and Hsieh Ming-yuan (謝明源), ran towards Chung, apparently to help their comrade. Seconds later the fists were flying. The fight did not last long, but some of the lawmakers nonetheless sustained facial injuries.

The fight did not change anything, however. The meeting on the NSB's secret funds took place as scheduled.

All the lawmakers involved in the fight had left the building by then, with some going to hospitals to treat their wounds and others back to their offices to arrange press conferences about what happened.

Lee might actually be the key to the conflict between the pan-blue and pan-green camps, since the pan-blue camp is demanding that the NSB explain Lee's suspected connection with the secret fund.

The NSB did not give any hint at the meeting that Lee might have used the secret fund for his personal interests or any illegal activities.

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