American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Stephen Young's comments on Thursday drew heated criticism from opposition parties yesterday, but some political heavyweights also came out in defense of the US representative's blunt statement.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (
"It would be a big help for the arms bills if [Young] had chosen a more euphemistic mode of expression or self-restraint," Ma said.
While arguing that the KMT has always been supportive of a "reasonable" arms budget, Ma said that passage of the bill depends on the nation's defense needs, finances, cross-strait relations and public opinion, and the US should respect the right of the Legislative Yuan to review the bill.
"The Republic of China is a sovereign country ... The right of the Legislative Yuan to review the bill should be respected," Ma said in a meeting with the press. "[The KMT] will support the bill if it's necessary. National defense concerns everybody, and our stance should not be influenced by an AIT representative."
Thanking the US for its concern over Taiwan's defense and security in Asia, Ma said that the KMT takes the issue of national defense seriously and had said last month that it would handle this issue in the current legislative session.
The KMT and People First Party (PFP) caucuses have agreed not deal with the bill until Prosecutor Eric Chen (陳瑞仁) concludes his investigation into the corruption scandals surrounding the president and his family, Ma said, adding that there was still time for the bill to be reviewed after the prosecutor's investigative reports are released around the middle of next month.
KMT caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (
The PFP also condemned Young for what it called "improper comments."
PFP caucus whip Yang Cheng Chin-ling (鄭金玲) said at a press conference that the PFP would recommend that the US recall Young, and that it would initiate a motion in the legislature that Young be declared persona non grata.
Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), director of the PFP's policy coordination department, said the caucus would demand that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revoke the AIT official's diplomatic immunity if Young does not apologize by next week for his comments on the arms procurement deal and the opposition parties' behavior during the Double Ten National Day celebrations.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Charles Chiang (
He said that although the arms purchase bill is considered an internal issue, Young was also addressing the diplomatic issue between Taiwan and the US. Young's comments therefore did not violate Taiwan's sovereignty, he said.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (