A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker yesterday proposed freezing part of the funds earmarked for the nation’s participation in UN-affiliated agencies following a statement by a diplomatic ally at a UN Assembly touting cross-strait unification, sources said.
Legislative sources said the proposal, supported by the DPP caucus, demanded that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs present a report before the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee to explain why Saint Lucia Prime Minister Kenny Anthony made such a statement before the world body.
At the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in September, Anthony said his government “is well aware of the determination of the Chinese people to unify their country, signaled to the world with the taking by China of its rightful place in this august body of the United Nations.”
“We look forward to a continued evolution of the ongoing peaceful rapprochement among the Chinese people as they search to unify their civilization,” Anthony said in the speech.
The budget frozen was part of a total of NT$90 million (US$3.08 million) that DPP lawmakers proposed freezing at the committee meeting yesterday — about one-tenth of the budget listed as confidential in the ministry’s budget statement for next year.
A funding earmarked for enhancing relations with the US was among the budget items frozen at the preliminary review stage, with DPP lawmakers accusing the ministry of violating the principle of neutrality in its handling of US-Taiwan relations, the sources said.
They said the DPP’s action was prompted by remarks made by Stephen Chen (陳錫蕃), a former representative to the US and a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) senior official, at a forum at a Washington-based think tank — the US Center for Strategic and International Studies — on Oct. 17, in which he allegedly severely criticized the DPP.
The DPP was concerned that the ministry was using public funds to attack the opposition, the sources said.
Titled “Taiwan’s Approach to Escalating Sovereignty Disputes in East Asia,” the forum was cofunded by the ministry as part of its effort to discuss Taiwan’s stance on the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in the international arena.
The committee yesterday also approved a resolution to censure the ministry, as lawmakers accused former minister of foreign affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添), now secretary-general of the Presidential Office, of leaking some of the information in the ministry’s confidential budget statement to the KMT on Aug. 29.
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that part of the confidential budget statement presented by Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) at the committee meeting yesterday was also seen in Yang’s presentation to the KMT, a document available for downloading from the KMT’s Web site.
The resolution was sponsored by KMT legislators Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) and Chan Kai-chen (詹凱臣). Lin said the ministry should treat the committee with respect and keep lawmakers abreast of the latest information and developments.