Tue, Jun 15, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Academics speak out against arms purchases

CNA , Taipei

A group of academics spoke out yesterday against the government's plan to purchase NT$610.8 billion (US$18.23 billion) in arms from the US.

Lin Shen-ching (林深靖), executive director of the Democracy Action Alliance, said the huge price tag for the arms would certainly squeeze out other budget items.

He added that the money could be better used elsewhere.

Lin said that his group would support the armed forces' request to maintain a significant capability to wage war.

But he said his group would not agree to finance the purchases with a special budget that was not subject to restrictions on raising the money via loans.

Lin said that instead of defusing the crisis, the arms purchases would add fuel to the fire and increase the likelihood of a conflict.

Lin added that conflict could instead be avoided through political maneuvering.

Hsieh Ta-ling (謝大寧), a professor at National Chungcheng University in Chiayi and alliance convenor, said the arms purchase betrayed President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) lack of trust in his own authority as well as his reliance on the protection of the US.

Hsieh said he was pessimistic about the possibility that the Legislative Yuan will strike down the budget, especially since Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) is set to travel to the US at the head of a legislative delegation.

He claimed that Wang and the legislators in the delegation would be influenced by their American hosts on the purchases.

The two academics said their alliance would hold a forum to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the purchases, and will organize a protest against the purchases on June 20.

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