Thu, Jan 26, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Lawmakers beef about decision

CARVING KNIVES OUT While some in the DPP backed the health department's OK on US beef imports, others did not and pan-blue lawmakers were scathingly critical

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lu Hsin-chang, president of Consumer Report Taiwan, yesterday questions the government's decision to conditionally allow US beef imports. Speaking at a press conference held by the Consumers' Foundation, Lin said that some US beef might still come from the batch banned by the government last year.

PHOTO: TIEN JUI-HUA, TAIPEI TIMES

Legislators were divided yesterday over the Department of Health's plan to conditionally lift the ban on the importation of US beef.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) said he believes the department made its decision after a careful review.

However, he said the department must exert itself to safeguard the health of the people after the ban is lifted.

Chen also cast doubt on the resolution passed by the legislature earlier this month demanding legislative approval for the lifting of the ban.

He said the resolution may have encroached on the Executive Yuan's administrative power.

The legislature resolved on Jan. 12 that the Department of Health must report to the legislature first before it can authorize a lifting of the ban on US beef.

Another DPP caucus whip, Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津), however, was not as willing as Chen to endorse the department's move, saying its decision was questionable.

Yeh said further observation was needed to decided whether the timing was right to lift the ban now.

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) harshly criticized the health department for violating the legislative resolution as well as posting the news of its decision on its Web site "behind their [the lawmakers'] backs."

"The administration is a rotten thief. They are useless, desperate and ignore the legislature's resolution," she said.

"I have no idea why they want to lift the ban in such a hurry. What are they afraid of? The incident makes me have zero confidence in the new Cabinet, none!" she said.

Since the Japanese government resumed its ban on US beef imports three days ago, Lai said that health department officials must take Japan's action into their considerations.

TSU caucus whip Mark Ho (何敏豪) said that although he gave high marks to Premier Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) decision not to appoint any Taiwan provincial government officials, he was disappointed at what he called the new Cabinet's "crude" decision to lift the import ban.

Ho said that his caucus is behind Lai's criticism 100 percent and hopes to see the executive branch offer a clear account of its controversial decision.

PAN-BLUES `STUNNED'

Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛) said that she had been "stunned" by the health department's decision to bring the ban to an end, which she described as "unfathomable."

Pan said her caucus has not ruled out the possibility of punishing the health officials who made the decision.

People First Party (PFP) caucus whip Sun Ta-chien (孫大千) said that Su must shoulder the political responsibility for lifting the ban, made on his first day in office.

Sun criticized the Executive Yuan, which he accused of disobeying the legislative resolution and causing tension between the executive and legislative branches.

"While Japan continues to ban the US beef imports, we are doing exactly the opposite," he said.

"We are not a subsidiary of the US. I firmly condemn the administration's effort to fawn over the US at the expense of our health," the PFP lawmaker said.

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