Tue, Apr 17, 2012 - Page 3 News List

DPP questions agriculture council’s neutrality

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Democratic Progressive Party legislators Chen Ting-fei, center, and Lee Chun-yi, right, hold a press conference at the legislature in Taipei yesterday, accusing Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) staff of intervening during a public hearing by the Council of Agriculture.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) yesterday accused staff members at Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters in Chiayi of intervening and stopping him from commenting during a Council of Agriculture policy explanatory hearing last week on the US beef controversy.

Lee told the legislature that the council hosted a hearing on the beef issue in Chiayi, but only the KMT flag was flying at the entrance, and when he rose to speak, local KMT staff prevented him from doing so.

Lee said the staff told him it was a KMT rally and that he should leave.

“If you want to question the policy, please do so in the legislature [in Taipei],” Lee said he was told.

“I wondered who was hosting the explanatory hearing and whether there were restrictions on who was allowed to participate,” Lee said, adding that he would not rule out bringing the incident to the Control Yuan.

DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the council was suspected of violating regulations on civil neutrality.

Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Wang Cheng-teng (王政騰) told a press conference yesterday that he was the chairman of the hearing that day and had immediately stood up to put a stop to the inappropriate action by local KMT officials.

Wang said the council hosted the event to explain the government’s policy on US beef to the public, as well as to listen to what the public had to say.

The event was held with the assistance of private foundations, which were also tasked with inviting people to the hearing, Wang said.

“Lee had a different opinion at the time and we respect everyone’s viewpoints on the subject,” he said.

Asked by reporters whether the council would hold a hearing exclusively for DPP members, Wang said that if the public was concerned about the issue, the council would seriously consider the possibility, adding that negotiations over administrative policies were all about planning and there could never be too many hearings.

“We try to be as inclusive as we can,” Wang said.

Asked about the council’s civil neutrality, KMT caucus secretary-general Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) said that KMT and DPP members were present at the hearing and it was evident that the government was neutral on the matter.

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