Thu, Jul 20, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Hau Pei-tsun passing the buck over Lafayette scandal, DPP legislators say

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former premier Hau Pei-tsun's (郝柏村) testimony that the decision on the purchase of Lafayette-class frigates was made not by him but by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) sparked disputes among legislators yesterday.

Hau made the allegation when he was questioned on Tuesday in connection with a kickback and murder scandal involving the deal.

Hau has been accused of arbitrarily deciding to buy six Lafayette-class frigates from France in 1989, thereby scuppering the navy's plan to buy 16 warships from South Korea.

Democratic Progressive Party legislative caucus whip Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) said Hau was lying about the government's about-face on the ship procurement.

"A report issued by the navy has made it clear that Hau twice instructed the navy to hold off on the deal with South Korea and then reversed the decision overnight," Yeh said.

Hau said on Tuesday that he had merely recommended that the government consider each deal on its merits, because the French deal might have been more attractive, but Yeh disputed this.

"The decision was made in 1990, and the first Lafayette-class frigate was not built until 1993. It's irrational to spend tens of billions of dollars on an unfinished ship," she said.

Hau told reporters after being questioned that he, as the then-chief of the general staff, did not play a major role in the arms deal, adding that it was the chief of the armed forces (the president) who had the final say.

In response, Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Ho Min-hao (何敏豪) said: "The chief of the armed forces did not have the final say. Actually, the armed forces didn't reject the recommendation made by the general staff."

However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) said that it was impossible that the chief of the armed forces had not been involved in the decision-making process.

"The chief of the armed forces had the power to make a final decision on the arms deal. If he didn't agree with the chief of the general staff, [he could have overruled his recommendation]," Kuo said.

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