Sun, Jun 27, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Arms bill will hurt DPP: New Party

CNA , TAIPEI

The head of the opposition New Party has suggested that the pan-blue alliance attack the proposed NT$610.8 billion (US$18.17 billion) arms procurement budget in its campaign for December's legislative elections.

New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) said yesterday it deplored a situation in which the nation could spend NT$610.8 billion on arms procurement.

"The New Party opposes the huge sum involved in the arms purchase," Yok said.

He added that "the government should invest more resources in caring for underprivileged groups."

The Executive Yuan earlier this month proposed the purchase of six Patriot PAC-III anti-missile batteries, eight conventional submarines and 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft from the US. The budget is now pending approval by the Legislative Yuan.

Yok's comments followed a rally yesterday by several civic groups who expressed opposition to the bill, saying it would squeeze spending on social welfare.

Yok said that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is attempting to gain more than half of the 225 seats in the Legislative Yuan in December so that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) could implement his policies on the back of a DPP majority.

Although the DPP is currently the largest party in the legislature, the pan-blue alliance of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the People First Party and the New Party still have a slight edge over the DPP and its ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

Arguing that the administration has no regard for the opinions of the opposition, Yok suggested that the alliance make the controversial arms procurement proposal its campaign focus. The alliance should explain the huge procurement deal to the public and let the voters decide, Yok said.

Yok added that the arms procurement deal should not be debated during the next legislative session, the last session of the current legislature, and instead should be left until a new legislature is elected.

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