Thu, Jan 05, 2006 - Page 2 News List

KMT legislator `reveals' Kaohsiung Harbor program

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Apparently unaware that the Taiwanese and US governments had already officially acknowledged the program, an opposition legislator revealed a "secret" program, in which US security officials have been stationed in Kaohsiung, at a legislative meeting yesterday.

Ten officials from the US Department of Homeland Security have been stationed at Kaohsiung Harbor to help check suspicious cargo transported to the US since last year as part of its global anti-terrorism effort, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Hsiu-yen (盧秀燕) said at a legislative defense committee meeting yesterday

However, she said, the move had not been announced because of the lack of diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the US.

In fact, Kaohsiung customs officials said in mid-July last year that 12 officers from US Customs and the Department of Homeland Security had begun arriving in Kaohsiung.

The US government also issued a press release on July 25 announcing that the security team in Kaohsiung was operational.

International media have reported widely on the issue.

The program is part of a worldwide effort by the US to monitor the safety of shipments destined for the US and is called the "Container Security Initiative."

Nevertheless, the legislator was not the only official who was unaware that the "secret" operation had already been announced by the US government and Taiwanese officials.

A senior official from the National Security Bureau, Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝), refused to confirm the matter during yesterday's meeting. The bureau is in charge of coordinating the program with the US officials.

The Taipei Times confronted Lu with the fact that the program was not secret and asked her why she had characterized it as such.

Lu said she "mentioned the matter" because few of Taiwan's Chinese-language newspapers covered the story and therefore few Taiwanese know about the cooperation between the two nations.

She said she wanted government officials to speak up about its cooperation with foreign countries and not to "keep everything secret."

Lu also voiced concerns that the US might be infringing on sovereignty.

Additional reporting by Mac William Bishop

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