Mon, Jan 03, 2005 - Page 3 News List

PFP quits plan to work with DPP on arms bill

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

Rebutting media speculation, the People First Party (PFP) said yesterday it will not cooperate with pan-green parties to allow the controversial arms procurement budget and related statutes to enter the legislative floor.

"Under the circumstances, where the Ministry of National Defense (MND) cannot explain the price, items, and procedure behind the arms purchase to the people, the PFP's stance on the budget has not changed," the party's director of policy research, Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) said yesterday.

Chang's comments were in response to a report in a Chinese-language newspaper yesterday claiming that several unspecified PFP legislators were willing to join forces with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government to get the budget and statute onto the legislative floor this session.

The NT$610.8 billion (US$18.6 billion) arms purchase special budget has met heavy resistance from social groups and opposition parties since the Cabinet proposed it last year. The PFP and its pan-blue ally, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have been long-time opponents of the bill.

Because of their opposition, the government has been unable to pass the statute allowing it to form special budget proposals and the budget plan itself through the legislature's procedure committee, which decides the agenda for each legislative sitting.

The budget and statute, said Chang yesterday, will have to wait until the next legislative sitting to be discussed.

Speaking at the KMT headquarters later that afternoon, KMT caucus whip Huang Teh-fu (黃德福) expressed his support for the PFP's decision not to back the pan-green camp.

"[The KMT] and the PFP are of the same position on the [arms procurement] bill," Huang said yesterday. "We both agree that the bill must be sent back to the Executive Yuan before we will consider the statute," he added.

The KMT and PFP have previously said they would not consider passing the special arms budget and the bill simultaneously.

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