American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Stephen Young yesterday urged the legislature to pass the arms procurement budgets by the end of this fall, noting that Taiwan should not continue to allow its security to be held hostage by partisan concerns.
Young made the remarks at a press conference, conveying the US' position on the arms procurement bills, which have been held up in the legislature.
Young suggested a "concrete step" for Taiwan in this regard.
"Legislators need to take this issue into debate by the government inside the legislature itself. That would permit the budgets to be approved by the legislature after three readings by this end of this fall session," Young said.
Young said it was a critical time for the bills and that the opportunity to pass them should not be missed.
Young said he had talked to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) about the arms budgets and that both had said they understood the importance of the issue and would try to resolve the matter as soon as possible.
Young said he disagreed with opposition politicians who told him that the passage of the budgets would somehow be a gift to President Chen Shui-bian (
"I fundamentally disagree with this perspective," Young said. "This [the passage of defense budgets] would be a gift for the people of Taiwan and the security of Taiwan."
"The US is watching closely and judging who takes responsible positions as well as those who play politics on this critical issue," he said. "So my message is: act now to pass a robust and secure defense budget this fall."
"Don't do it for the US, do it for Taiwan," Young said.
Commenting on the anti-Chen protests launched by former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh (
Young mentioned that an incident that occurred in the legislature had illustrated the importance of politeness.
It was apparent that he was referring to the incident in which independent Legislator Li Ao (李敖) discharged a canister containing what Li described as teargas during a legislative committee meeting.
"These images do not promote the concept of Taiwan's peaceful democratic transition to the world," Young said, but he added that he thought Taiwan was doing just fine in the course of its democratization.
In response, Li yesterday urged the government to "deport" Young.
"[Whether I have manners or not] is none of your business. As an `underground ambassador' living in someone else's country, how dare he talk nonsense?" Li asked.
Soong, in response to Young, told a press conference yesterday afternoon: "If the US stands for Taiwan's democracy, it would be an uncalled-for demand for Young to issue an ultimatum on the passage of the arms budget."
Soong said he met with Young on Wednesday morning, after having initially rejected Young's request to have a meeting with him on Oct 16.
"I told him that pan-blue legislators were elected [in 2004] because of their stance against the extravagant arms bill. The pan-blue then gained a majority in the legislature and mainstream public opinion is still opposed to the arms package," Soong said.