Wed, Sep 21, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Premier finally takes the podium

POLICY REPORT After protracted negotiations, the premier was able to make his administrative report and trade barbs with lawmakers over Kaohsiung's MRT

BY KO SHU-LING  /  STAFF REPORTER

After a one-and-a-half-hour delay, Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) finally went on stage to deliver his administrative briefing yesterday, with Hsieh and former Kaohsiung City mayor Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) pointing fingers at each other over the city's mass rapid transit (MRT) system.

The legislature came to a standstill at 9am, when a cross-party meeting failed to iron out differences between the pan-blue and pan-green camps.

Upset by the protest placards placed on lawmakers' tables, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators requested that they be removed before they sent the premier to the podium.

The two camps then engaged in verbal clashes, leading the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus to walk out of the sitting in protest.

During inter-party talks, KMT caucus whip Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) accepted a demand by the DPP caucus to establish three commissions of inquiry. Another KMT caucus whip, Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛), however, rejected the proposal and more protests erupted between the two camps.

Seeking to allay the confrontation, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) called on both sides to make good on their promises made during the inter-party meeting.

In addition to asking the pan-blue camp to put away their placards, Wang requested the pan-green alliance exercise restraint.

People First Party (PFP) caucus whip Sun Ta-chien (孫大千) said that they would clear away the placards only if the DPP caucus agreed not to use any placards in future protests. With the DPP caucus' consent and pan-blue camp's placards removed, Hsieh finally took the podium at 10:27am.

With attention focused on a labor riot last month by Thai workers hired to build Kaohsiung City's build-operate-transfer (BOT) MRT system, Hsieh said that as the highest government administrator, he was willing to offer an apology, but added that no evidence had indicated that the government had sheltered or colluded with specific companies in the MRT project.

He said that the labor riot by Thai workers was an isolated case resulting from the management company's abuse of foreign workers' rights and interests, and that it was unfair to interpret the incident as the government's abuse of the human rights of foreign laborers.

Hsieh also reiterated that Wu, his predecessor as mayor of Kaohsiung City, was the one who approved the construction project.

In the afternoon session, however, Wu said that Hsieh, not him, had decided to use the BOT model to build the city's MRT system.

While Wu called Hsieh a "liar," Hsieh criticized Wu as being "full of nonsense."

In other developments, DPP Secretary-General Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) yesterday accused the KMT of libeling the DPP government, saying it had published a negative campaign ads on Monday that had used unsubstantiated facts.

Additional reporting by Jewel Huang

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