Tue, Sep 06, 2005 - Page 3 News List

KMT caucus urges premier to step down

RIOT PROBE As Frank Hsieh was mayor of Kaohsiung when the city's MRT project was finalized, he should step aside now that prosecutors are investigating the project


The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus yesterday requested that Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) resign to avoid any conflict of interest in a probe into a riot last month by Thai workers in Kaohsiung, where Hsieh was formerly mayor.

They also threatened to establish a commission of inquiry under the legislature and a truth-finding taskforce under the caucus to expose "corrupt practices."

Upset that government officials invited by the KMT to a breakfast meeting yesterday had sent "low ranking" representatives, the caucus vowed to freeze the annual budgets of their agencies until the "truth" of the matter came out.

Yesterday's meeting was stalled for 45 minutes before KMT lawmakers agreed to proceed in the absence of "high-ranking officials" who had been invited to the meeting, including Council of Labor Affairs Chairwoman Chen Chu (陳菊) and Vice Minister of Transportation and Communications and former director-general of Kaohsiung City's Department of Rapid Transit System Chou Li-liang (周禮良).

Both Chen and Chou sent proxies instead.

KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) and independent Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) said Hsieh should step down to avoid a conflict of interest in the investigation because he served as Kaohsiung City mayor when the city's rapid transit system construction project was finalized.

Chiu and KMT Legislator Lwo Shih-hsiung (羅世雄) called for the Taiwan High Court's Black Gold Investigation Center to step in. He also said that Chen had resigned to dodge the legislature's supervision.

The legislature will reconvene in the middle of this month.

Chen tendered her resignation yesterday, saying she wanted to take responsibility for the riot.

KMT caucus whip John Wu (吳志揚) called on Chen to stay on, saying that her resignation and Hsieh's remark on Saturday calling for the legislature to lodge a no-confidence vote were postering to divert attention from the government's recent blunders.

Wu asked that Hsieh face the matter head on and threatened to boycott the premier's scheduled report to the legislature.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) yesterday said the premier would cooperate with prosecutors investigating the Thai workers' riot.

"The premier will definitely help prosecutors whenever necessary," Cho said.

According to the spokesman, Kaohsiung prosecutors are trying to discover whether bribes were used in the process of hiring and importing Thai workers to build the city's MRT. Also, they are trying to figure out who started the riot and have begun to summon the workers who were involved.

In the meantime, Minister Without Portfolio Hsu Chih-hsiung (許志雄) is leading another investigation to try to determine which government office should take responsibility for the riot.

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