Sat, May 13, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Greens block vote on opening direct links

CROSS-STRAIT FUSS The legislature was unable to vote on the amendments, which a DPP lawmaker said would simply turn Taiwan into a local-level Chinese government

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Pan-green legislators stage a protest in the Legislative Yuan yesterday in an attempt to block a vote on amendments proposed by the pan-blue camp to open direct transportation links between Taiwan and China. The lawmakers hold banners attacking the pan-blue camp for selling out Taiwan.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

A protest by pan-green lawmakers blocked the legislature from moving ahead with the review of the pan-blue camp's direct links amendments to the law regulating cross-strait exchanges yesterday, forcing Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to postpone the review until Tuesday.

Under the pan-blue camp's proposed amendments to the 28th, 29th and 30th clauses of the Statute Governing the Relations Between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例), all restrictions on cross-strait transportation would be lifted three months after the amendments are passed.

Under the proposals, all ships, aircraft and other forms of transport registered in the Republic of China (ROC) would be allowed to travel to China, while those vessels and vehicles registered in the People's Republic of China (PRC) would be allowed to travel here.

Cross-party negotiations on the amendments began yesterday morning but a consensus to move ahead with the vote was not reached until 3:30pm.

After the pan-blue camp resolved to vote on the proposed amendments one by one on the legislative floor, about 40 pan-green lawmakers sat on the floor or stood on the speaker and chairman's platforms to block further deliberations.

Many of the protesters held banners and placards that read "the KMT [Chinese Nationalist Party] and the PFP [People First Party] are passing direct transportation [amendments] to sell Taiwan. They are all the people's enemy."

The pan-green protest deadlocked the legislature and at 5:30pm Wang announced that the direct link amendments would be reviewed on Tuesday.

KMT caucus whip Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛) angrily criticized the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), calling their boycott "shameless" and saying the pan-green camp was ignoring the people's need for direct transportation links.

"These amendments would be beneficial to the people, yet the government did not work on them. Worst of all, the government has shown a lazy and unconcerned attitude toward them," Pan said.

"We don't think that direct transportation links and government-level negotiation conflict with each other," he said.

"We could still negotiate [with China] after the amendments are passed," he said.

The DPP caucus disagreed.

It said that if the amendments were passed, Taiwan would forfeit its bargaining chips and any room it might have for negotiations with Beijing.

"The pan-blue camp's proposal simply turns Taiwan into a local government of China. We don't believe that the people of Taiwan would accept that," DPP caucus whip Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) said.

"Navigation rights are a part of a country's sovereignty and Taiwan's sovereignty cannot be decided by a [legislative ] vote," he said.

Another DPP caucus whip, Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), said that if the pan-blue camp forcibly passes the direct links amendments on Tuesday, the DPP would ask the Executive Yuan to file a reconsideration motion on the proposals.

KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended the pan-blue camp's effort to pass the direct link amendments, and said he would encourage the KMT caucus to continue negotiations.

"Both non-governmental and business circles have been talking about [direct flights], and the Economic Development Advisory Conference decided to open up direct fights," Ma said after taking part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Taipei European School's Shilin branch.

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