Wed, May 10, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Divisive transport links bill set for vote on Friday

MAJORITY POWER The pan-blue camp put on the agenda a bills to realize cross-strait transport links, over pan-green camp calls for more negotiations

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The stage was set yesterday for a legislative showdown on Friday, as the pan-blue camp put on the agenda a bill to ram through cross-strait transport links within a few months' time -- with or without the executive branch's support.

The pan-blue camp vowed to put the issue to a vote Friday, while the pan-green camp called for more negotiations on the bill. Parties across the spectrum sent out mobilization orders, preparing their members for what promises to be a pitched battle over the issue.

The bill was put on the legislative agenda through a vote in the pan-blue dominated Procedure Committee yesterday.

The amended direct transportation clause proposed by the pan-blue camp would lift all of the restrictions on cross-strait transportation in the Statute Governing the Relations Between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例) -- effective three months after the bill becomes law.

Several other controversial bills were also put on Friday's agenda, including a bill relaxing restrictions on government employees' travel to China and one expanding the "small three links."

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) urged the pan-green camp not to block the bill, as further cross-strait opening was a consensus reached in the Economic Development Advisory Conference that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government held in 2001.

"The opening of direct transportation with China will benefit the country's economy. And once the economy is strong, we won't be bullied by other countries," Lee said.

The DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucuses said that they are willing to negotiate with the pan-blue camp on amending the key clause in the statute on cross-strait transportation.

"Cross-strait direct links are a serious issue that involve the nation's sovereignty, and they should be decided only after the Taiwanese and Chinese governments hold negotiations and reach consensus," DPP caucus whip Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said.

"But judging from President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) predicament during his current trip, China's persecution of Taiwan has not eased up. The pan-blue camp should not echo China and infringe on the government's authority," he said.

Another DPP caucus whip Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) stressed that the nation's sovereignty is not an issue that should be put to a legislative vote.

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