Sat, Jan 21, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma, Wang to discuss arms bill

POWWOW The KMT chairman said that he hopes to achieve consensus with Wang on the long-stalled arms procurement bill and the president's Control Yuan nominees

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday confirmed that he will meet with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) on Wednesday night to exchange opinions on the long-stalled arms procurement bill and Control Yuan nominees.

"The KMT will make public its position and policy on the arms procurement budget to prove that we are a responsible opposition party," he said yesterday morning at KMT headquarters, adding that Wang was "happy to see the KMT make such progress."

Ma said the party will discuss the details with the legislative caucus and reach a consensus before announcing the KMT's position on the matter next month or in March.

"There is room for discussion on the arms procurement budget, but issues like the country's financial situation are things we need to be concerned about," he said later yesterday during a tea gathering with the press.

"The government should also seek consensus and make peace with the opposition parties, instead of creating more tension and making things more difficult," he added.

Ma said the party's legislative caucus will announce a "reasonable arms procurement" policy, and will be willing to discuss related issues with the defense ministry.

In this regard, PFP caucus whip Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交) yesterday asked Ma not to compromise too much on the two important issues.

"These two issues concern the entire country. As a result, we cannot be too careful on this and we need more discussions," Hwang said.

Taiwan Solidarity Union caucus whip Mark Ho (何敏豪) said that he hopes that the pan-blue camp, under Ma's leadership, will not come up with any more excuses to boycott the two issues, especially the arms procurement bill.

"The pan-blue camp has been so lazy, and we cannot go on like this," Ho said. "Many pan-blue lawmakers were former military personnel and they understand the importance of the procurement. It cannot be constantly postponed like this."

Meanwhile, KMT Secretary-General Chan Chuen-pao (詹春柏) and the PFP's Chin Chin-sheng (秦金生) on Wednesday discussed the division of city councilor seats ahead of the upcoming Taipei and Kaohsiung city councilor elections. Ma said that the two parties agreed at the meeting that they will jointly control the number of nominees, run joint campaigns and divide the total votes received by either party.

The actual number of seats allotted to each party will be decided based on the votes it attracted in previous city councilor elections, according to KMT Liao Feng-teh (廖風德), head of the KMT's Organization and Development Committee.

While Ma insisted that the consensus on the city councilor election demonstrated better relations between the two parties, the KMT-PFP relationship has suffered from great tensions, with more PFP members defecting to the KMT in order to win the KMT's nomination in the year-end elections.

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang

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