Tue, Sep 06, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet attacks Ma over flood budget

BY JIMMY CHUANG AND KO SHU-LING  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Taipei Mayor and Chinese Nationalist Party Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) comments on an NT$80 billion (US$2.5 billion) budget for flood prevention contradicted previous remarks, Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said yesterday.

"We really do not understand ? has Chairman Ma forgotten something on purpose or what? Or maybe he was not listening during the meetings," Cho said. "While the budget proposal was being discussed at the Executive Yuan, he was there the whole time."

Cho's was referring to Ma's recent comments that the proposal was "not well-organized" and there are "only seven articles in this proposal."

At a press conference yesterday morning, Cho cited records from the weekly Cabinet meetings. He said that the budget was discussed on May 18 and May 25, and that Ma had attended both meetings. Ma was absent from the June 29 meeting, when final approval was expected but Deputy Mayor Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川) attended on his behalf.

"I really do not understand. If he disagreed with something, he should have said so immediately at the meeting," Cho said. "His complaints look like a contradiction to me."

"I believe that he [Ma] knows that there are way more than seven articles in this proposal," he added.

Cho said that Premier Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) "emotional comments" on Saturday that he would step down if lawmakers do not support the budget were not a declaration against opposition parties or the legislature.

On Saturday Hsieh urged lawmakers to initiate a no-confidence motion if they did not want to support the budget.

"It is our end goal to work with the legislature on this issue," Cho said.

"It is my understanding that many lawmakers from opposition parties also care about this budget a lot and are hoping to approve it as soon as possible. However, due to political concerns, they are not allowed to make any move at this moment," Cho said. "It is our hope that Ma can take advantage of his influence as a chairman to break the ice."

Cho urged Ma, as chairman of the biggest opposition party, to listen to the public and urge party members to help on the issue.

"I hope that we can work this out," Cho said.

Meanwhile, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday dismissed Hsieh's remark about a no-confidence vote and comments that the legislature is stalling over the review of the proposed budget.

"The public will be the judge of the matter and I do not have much to say about the premier's remarks about a no-confidence vote apart from laughing," Wang told reporters. "Fighting floods and rescue relief are two different matters. We did not stall the review of the bill and I hope the premier exercises prudence in his words and stops misleading the public."

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