Thu, May 25, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Premier Su calls on legislature to tackle priority bills

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) called on the legislature yesterday to pass bills of major concern to the nation, while pan-blue legislators demanded passage of a direct links amendment before they would agree to extend the legislative session.

"The current legislative session will end on May 31. Among the 33 priority bills that the government sent to the legislature for review, only four have been passed," Su said at yesterday's weekly Cabinet meeting.

Government Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said that Su had demanded that government officials step up the pace of communication with legislators to get the bills passed by the end of the session.

"If the legislative session is not extended, time for communication would be very limited. The premier hopes the ministers in charge of the bills make good use of the time available," Cheng said.

"The important bills include the arms purchase budget, a flood control project budget and social welfare bills, among others," he said.

Cheng said that Su also appealed to lawmakers to set aside partisanship and review the bills as soon as possible.

In the legislature, the issue of extending the current session was on the agenda of a cross-party negotiation, but no consensus was reached because People First Party (PFP) legislators boycotted the meeting.

PFP caucus whip Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said the caucus would not attend the negotiations unless the amendment to the Statute Governing the Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例) clears the legislature.

The amendment, known as the "direct link clause," is a pan-blue camp proposal that would eliminate the need for the government's authorization for Taiwanese aircraft or boats to travel directly to China.

The pan-green camp has twice blocked the amendment from review on the legislative floor.

Pan-green lawmakers have said the amendments would undermine the government's authority to set cross-strait policy.

Mainland Affairs Council officials have held frequent talks with pan-blue legislators in recent days in a bid to reach consensus ahead of Friday, the day the amendment is scheduled to undergo its third review.

The latest cross-party negotiation on the amendment was held at 9pm last night.

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