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Ma, Soong meet to plan tactics

Party leaders discuss weapons package and possible Cabinet

Ma, Soong meet to plan tactics

Opposition Kuomintang head Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his People First Party counterpart James Soong (宋楚瑜) held there second closed-door talk in two weeks on controversial post-election issues, including the possibility of the pan-blue camp forming a new Cabinet, the arms procurement package, and the legislative confirmation of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) nominees for the Control Yuan.

After the 80-minute-long meeting, Soong said the pan-blue camp would continue to "oppose a cash-for-friends' arms procurement, while suggesting that the nominating procedure for the Control Yuan follow the precedent of the nominations for the National Communications Commission."

As for the possible formation of a new Cabinet headed by the pan-blue camp, Ma and Soong said that the government should focus more on revising its policies instead of reshuffling posts all the time.

Soong, specifically, said that the stabilization of cross-strait policies should be moved to the top of the government's agenda, as it is a crucial factor for the internationalization of the Taiwanese people.

Citing his recent visit to Malaysia, Soong pointed out that he observed that Taiwanese businessmen were usually among the top investors in the economies of many Southeast Asian countries, but that they often lost many other opportunities due to Chinese influence in those areas.

"If the discrepancies between Taiwan and China can't be reconciled, not even the gods can save me," joked Soong. He emphasized that for Taiwan to advance in its economy and society, cross-strait problems would have to be solved first.

Soong further added that it was much too early to discuss "who will head the new Cabinet," since the government policies needed reforming first before commissioning new officials.

Ma echoed Soong's statement, saying that the governing party's apparent desire to appoint opposition members as government officials was a fruitless approach because, no matter how capable the person is, his abilities will not brought into full play if the guiding principles of his job don't match his own will.

"The government needs to remold its policies based on sincerity and cooperation (with the opposition)," said Soong, "or else, it would just be all talk and no action."

Soong next criticized the arms procurement bill, a NT$480 billion special budget to purchase weapons from the United States that had been blocked since June 2004, but which was surprisingly passed for review in the Legislature this Tuesday, due to low attendance by pan-blue lawmakers.

Soong reemphasized the pan-blue stance of opposing to "cash-for-friends" arms procurement.

"(The pan-blue camp) calls it a 'cash-for-friends' weapons bill," said Soong, "because it is unreasonable regarding the cost, the amount of weapons, the types of weapons, and the procedure of buying the weapons."

Soong agreed that Taiwan should demonstrate both the spiritual determination and the material capability to defend itself, but the government should not persist in buying the U.S.-designated weapons.

"The U.S. also does not seem to be showing sincerity in what it has said was its willingness to assist Taiwan in its military self-defense," said Soong, "otherwise, why would it be selling Taiwan used P-3C anti-submarine systems?"

Ma agreed, saying that the government could consider other weapons rather than the three types the U.S. was offering Taiwan.

The arms procurement package offered by the U.S. at an initial cost of NT$610.8 billion consisted of six Patriot III anti-missile systems, eight diesel-electric submarines, and 12 P-3C Orion submarine-hunting aircraft.

Aligned as a special budget by the

Ministry of National Defense, the weapons package has, since the 2004 referendum that vetoed the Patriot-III anti-missile systems - as well as the first blockage by the Legislature - been cut down in both quantity and cost, but the opposition has still voiced its dissatisfaction.

Meanwhile, on the subject of the president's nominations for the Control Yuan, Soong said there was controversy regarding the nominees and the nomination procedure, and that it should be discussed by governing and opposition parties on a "just, reasonable and transparent" basis.

"The nomination of the National Communications Commission would be a good example to follow," said Soong. He added that with public supervision, the candidates for the Control Yuan would possess more competence to oversee the government.

Ma agreed that the nominations for the Control Yuan should follow the precedent of the NCC, since the results of the NCC nominations fitted the expectations of the Taiwanese people. Ma further advised Chen that since the Constitution gives the president the right to nominate members for the Control Yuan, Chen should respect the right the Constitution gives the Legislature to confirm his nominees.

Ma concluded his remarks by stressing that the pan-blue alliance is not just the KMT but the triumvirate of the KMT, the PFP and the New Party, and that further discussions would be conducted to determine what could be done to improve the government body in Taiwan.

Updated : 2021-06-19 22:35 GMT+08:00