Sun, Sep 25, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Anti-arms alliance plans protest at Legislative Yuan

COUNTER-ATTACK An alliance that agitates against the arms procurement bill says it will stage a protest in defiance of a march to support the long-stalled bill

BY KO SHU-LING  /  STAFF REPORTER

An anti-arms procurement alliance yesterday vowed to stage a protest outside the Legislative Yuan today to counter a march organized in support of the long-stalled arms procurement bill.

"I believe every Taiwanese citizen loves the country, but we'd like the public to know who loves this country more. Is it those who want to spend a lot of money buying more weapons or is it those who want to spend the money improving people's livelihoods," said Kuo Chung-yi (郭中一), convener of and spokesman for the Anti-Arms Procurement Alliance.

Counter

Kuo said that their demonstration, scheduled for 4pm today, has been organized to counter the march supporting the arms procurement package and to convince the public that a weapons race will only worsen the already volatile cross-strait relations.

The pro-arms procurement march is scheduled for 3pm today in support of the stymied arms bill and to protest against legislative procrastination. The bill has been blocked by the pan-blue camp, which enjoys a slim majority in the legislature, for over a year.

Big hopes

Organizers of the pro-arms procurement rally hope to see a turnout of 5 million.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Taiwan Solidarity Union and World United Formosans for Independence have promised to attend the event in great numbers.

Hsiao Chung-han (蕭忠漢), president of the Association for Middle-Aged and Senior Employment, yesterday criticized the DPP-led government for turning a blind eye to the plight of the unemployed and middle-aged or elderly workers.

"No matter what the amount of the arms procurement budget is, it is still taxpayers' money," Hsiao said.

Take heed

While Hsiao said that he is not adverse to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) plan to offer NT$8 billion (US$250 million) each year to help the infrastructure of Taiwan's diplomatic allies, he urged the president to take heed of the nation's alarmingly high jobless rate.

Echoing Hsiao's opinion, Wang Hsiao-min (王孝敏), a member of the Association of the Human Rights of the Unemployed, said that he hoped the government would spend more money taking care of domestic problems, such as unemployment, than doling out millions in foreign aid.

Chin Hui-chu (秦慧珠), former head of the People First Party (PFP) caucus office and now a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) member, called on the DPP government to make the arms procurement budget transparent and gear up the investigation into the controversial Lafayette frigate scandal.

Peoples' voice

"I hope the DPP administration will listen to the voices of the people, most of whom are against the arms procurement plan," she said. "I hope the DPP government sucks up not only to the US but also to the people."

Responding to the US government's concerns over the long-delayed arms procurement bill, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said that the matter still has to be decided by Taiwan, in accordance with the nation's security situation and wide-ranging interests.

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