Tue, Mar 30, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Post-shooting measures defended

CONFUSION The government's national security agencies said there were no set rules for dealing with crises according to the so-called national security mechanism

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

An emergency-response mechanism activated on March 19 following the shooting of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was authorized by the president and carried out according to the Constitution, Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.

His remarks came during a breakfast meeting between People First Party (PFP) legislators and leading members of the government's national security apparatus.

Legislators asked the officials to explain why the national security mechanism was launched on March 19, the eve of the presidential election, when Chen was attacked in Tainan.

According to Huang Lai (黃磊), deputy director of the National Security Bureau (NSB), the bureau's regulations do not spell out what the national security mechanism requires it to do.

PFP Legislator Sheu Yuan-kuo (許淵國) then showed Huang an official Executive Yuan document, according to which the launch of the national security mechanism is the bureau's business.

Huang said NSB had an internal emergency-response mechanism to deal with crises, "but I think measures handling crises based on decisions jointly made by top agencies from both the Executive Yuan and the Presidential Office can be generally regarded as part of the national security mechanism."

Representatives from the Ministry of National Defense said its regulations included no mention of a national security mechanism and that on March 19, the ministry received no order to launch such a mechanism.

PFP legislators including Chou Hsi-wei (周錫偉) and Diane Lee (李慶安) then questioned how it was possible for the Cabinet to launch a national security mechanism.

In response, Lin stressed that the launch of the national security mechanism was in accordance with the Constitution but that did not affect military personnel.

Secretary-General to the Presidential Office Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) further explained the mechanism after meeting with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Secretary-General Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) and his PFP counterpart Tsai Chung-hsiung (蔡鐘雄) yesterday afternoon.

"After the launch of the national security mechanism, chiefs from agencies dealing with cross-strait affairs, diplomacy, national defense and finance and economics have to have a meeting as soon as possible in order to monitor the activities of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and economic development," Chiou said.

Chiou said that the launch of the mechanism did not affect servicemen's ability to go home to vote on March 20.

According to Chiou, the mechanism had been used three times since Chen came to power: following the terrorist attacks on the US in September 2001; after the Bali bombing in 2002; and during the SARS outbreak last year.

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