Tue, Sep 20, 2005 - Page 3 News List

KMT to let premier give speech

SURPRISE DECISION After preventing Frank Hsieh from taking the podium to give a policy report last week, pan-blue legislators have agreed to let him proceed today

BY KO SHU-LING  /  STAFF REPORTER

After days of haggling, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus yesterday finally changed its mind and agreed to let Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) deliver his administrative briefing today.

The caucus, however, plans to push through a proposition at the pan-blue dominated Procedural Committee today to "firmly condemn" Hsieh in lieu of a public apology for what they termed his "dubious" role in the mass rapid transit (MRT) system construction project of Kaohsiung City, where Hsieh was formerly mayor.

KMT Legislator Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), who also serves as the executive director of the KMT's Central Policy Committee, told reporters late yesterday afternoon that they had achieved the goal of the first stage of their strategy and will proceed with the second phase.

"We have raised the profile of Kaohsiung's MRT incident and the establishment of five commissions of inquiry," Tseng said. "We will let the premier deliver his policy report [Tuesday] and grill him during the question-and-answer session."

People First Party (PFP) caucus whip Sun Ta-chien (孫大千) said that his caucus will side with the KMT again today.

The pan-blue caucuses have arranged for PFP lawmakers Wu Ching-chih (吳清池) and Chen Chao-jung (陳朝容) to be the first to question Hsieh. They will be followed by KMT lawmakers Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who is a former mayor of Kaohsiung, and Lee Fu-hsing (李復興), a former Kaohsiung City councilor.

The KMT's decision yesterday afternoon came as a surprise because two rounds of cross-party negotiations held yesterday failed to resolve the problem.

During the morning talks, Tseng complained that the DPP caucus lacked "sincerity" by sending two "lower-level" representatives to attend the inter-party meeting.

Tseng said that they would prefer to talk to DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), who also serves as the director of the DPP's Policy Committee, and Jao Yung-ching (趙永清), convener of the DPP caucus.

DPP caucus whips William Lai (賴清德) and Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) attended the meeting on their behalf.

Both Ker and Jao claimed that they were not aware of the meeting and were not notified of it until yesterday morning.

Wang dismissed their claim, saying that Ker had telephoned him on Friday to confirm yesterday's meeting.

"Did he get drunk again or something?" Wang said.

Upset by the absence of Ker and Jao, Tseng and KMT caucus whip Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源) refused to attend the afternoon talks.

KMT caucus whip Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛) told reporters after the afternoon meeting that her caucus planned to "terminate negotiations" with the DPP as a retaliatory measure.

But, after an hour-long closed-door meeting, the KMT and PFP caucuses announced that they would let Hsieh take the podium.

The KMT's change of heart is believed to have been influenced by suggestions from KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).

In related news, the DPP caucus whips last night held a meeting with Cabinet officials discussing priority bills to be passed in this legislative session.

The DPP caucus said that it will propose DPP's version of party asset bill next week although the Cabinet won't have a government version.

As for the bill regulating the composition of the National Communications Committee (NCC), the DPP said it will be put to a vote on Sept. 27 and the government will not agree on the KMT's suggestion that the committee be portioned out according to the seats of each party's legislators.

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