Mon, Nov 21, 2005 - Page 3 News List

DPP slammed for election `ploy'

MISUSE OF FUNDS?The Chinese Natinalist Party (KMT) said the DPP government's plan to distribute bird-flu information on election day was an abuse of taxpayers' money

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus yesterday criticized the Democratic Pro-gressive Party (DPP) government for using taxpayers' money to distribute educational materials on bird flu, which the KMT said was a political ploy ahead of the Dec. 3 local elections. The KMT threatened to cut related budgets if the DPP fails to offer a satisfactory explanation.

"We are calling on the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] government to rein in its horses before it's too late," said KMT caucus whip Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛). "We don't rule out the possibility of filing a suit, requesting a stop to the election or cutting government budget."

Pan made the remark yesterday morning in response to the Central Election Commission's (CEC) plan to distribute bird flu prevention flyers along with election information package to eligible voters before the polls.

Pan claimed that this was an example of the DPP administration drawing on government resources to help boost its "lagging" popularity in the Dec. 3 polls.

In response, CEC spokesman and Deputy Secretary-General Teng Tien-yu (鄧天祐) yesterday said that his commission is more than happy to provide a convenient distribution channel for such important health information, and that their cooperation was not influenced by politics.

"The reason that we agreed to cooperate is simply that it is a cost-effective and practical way to educate the public about the avian flu," he said.

Teng also requested that the KMT stop politicizing the matter because the prevention effort should transcend politics, and opposition parties and the public should not doubt the government's good intention.

KMT Legislator Fei Hung-tai (費鴻泰) produced a letter from the CEC to two local election commissions directing them to tell local election centers to give out bird flu prevention flyers while distributing information packages to eligible voters. According to Fei, the letter stated that the cost would be covered by the Department of Health.

Fei estimated that the cost of sending out the leaflets may be between NT$20 million and NT$30 million (US$600,000 and US$900,000).

Fei said the letter was sent by the CEC to the Taiwan Provincial Election Commission and Fujian Provincial Election Commission on Nov. 9, and that the decision to disburse the bird flu prevention leaflets along with election information packages was made by Council of Labor Affairs Chairman Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) during a meeting on Nov. 2.

Fei doubted Lee's qualification to preside over the meeting, which he said should have been by hosted by health authorities.

He also questioned the government's motive in instructing an independent election body to obey its orders.

In addition to asking the CEC to offer an explanation, Fei asked the Executive Yuan to explain why Taipei and Kaohsiung citizens were left out of the government's prevention efforts, and why the government has chosen to promote its anti-bird flu campaign via the CEC rather than the mass media.

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