Sun, Jan 01, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Defense minister to be absent from hearing on arms

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) will not appear at a public hearing on the special arms budget tomorrow, because he felt "reasonable discussions" of the issue would not take place with anti-arms bill activists also taking part in the event, a ministry spokesman said yesterday.

People First Party Legislator Chao Liang-yen (趙良燕), who also doubles as convener of the legislature's defense committee, proposed holding a hearing on the nation's arms procurement policy, to be held during tomorrow's committee meeting.

She invited Lee and other high ranking officials from the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to sit with anti-arms bill activists, including the convener and vice convener of the Anti-Arms Procurement Alliance Chang Ya-chung (張亞中) and Kuo Chung-yi (郭中一).

Ministry spokesman Rear Admiral Liou Chih-chien (劉志堅) yesterday said that Lee decided not to attend the hearing because "there would be no reasonable discussions and that a consensus cannot be reached at the hearing because those participants already have solid stance opposing the arms bill."

To avoid any arguments at the hearing, the MND suggested that Lee and other ministry officials not attend the meeting, Liou added.

Liou said that according to the law, legislators can conduct hearings on bills that have been placed on the legislative agenda and are being reviewed, but because the special arms bill has not been placed on the legislative agenda, legislators cannot conduct a hearing on it.

Chao yesterday criticized the MND, saying it was unwillingly to communicate with the public on the arms issue.

"The hearing will still be held without any of the military the officials," Chao added.

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