The Kuomintang and the People First Party legislative caucuses are calling on all members to attend a full-house session today in an attempt to return the arms procurement plan and other controversial bills to the Procedure Committee - a move that is likely to ignite conflicts between the ruling and opposition parties at the Legislature.
The KMT and the PFP made their decision after the Democratic Progressive Party on Tuesday called for a surprise vote on a proposal to send the bills to different committees for review.
On the eve of the vote, the Ministry of National Defense yesterday issued an opinion poll that showed 52.8 percent of respondents support the arms procurement plan, and urged lawmakers to rationally review the arms procurement plan in the National Defense Committee as soon as possible. The pan-blue alliance, however, does not accept the survey, reiterating that the purchase is expensive and unnecessary.
KMT legislative whip Pan Wei-kang said that although the DPP and its ally the Taiwan Solidarity Union unpredictably put these bills onto the parliamentary agenda, the pan-blue alliance will adopt any means necessary to prevent the arms procurement plan, party assets bill as well as Control Yuan nominations from being reviewed immediately in different committees.
Although the arms purchase package has never been reviewed in the National Defense Committee, legislators have discussed the issue twenty-eight times in the committee over the past three years, according to the latest statistics from the Legislature.
KMT Legislator Su Chi (蘇起) said the national defense purchase budget involves 11 other committees since the expensive purchase plan will crowd out other budgets if passed. Therefore, he noted, the arms purchase plan should not be decided by only 20 legislators in the National Defense Committee.
Responding to opposition parties' criticism, Hu Chen-pu (胡鎮埔), a director-general of political warfare department under the MND, said the MND will report on the arms procurement plan to KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) again in order to seek opposition parties' support after MND Vice Minister Huoh Shoou-yeh and other high-ranking military officials briefed Chairman Ma on the arms purchase package in September.
Hu said the MND had tried to persuade lawmakers to support the arms procurement plan but these efforts were in vain. Therefore, the MND has adjusted its strategy and is now appealing to the public to pressure lawmakers to push through the arms procurement plan, he continued.