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KMT, PFP block weapons budget

Opposition steamrolls controversial bills

KMT, PFP block weapons budget

Making good on their pledge to bar advancement of the arms procurement plan and other controversial bills, opposition lawmakers yesterday steamrolled an adjournment motion through the Legislature, a move that in effect voided an earlier decision to start review of those measures.

The twist infuriated Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union lawmakers who dubbed their opposition colleagues as China's stooges and called on the public to condemn their inaction.

The opposition-controlled Legislature voted 113 to 110 to adjourn the meeting yesterday and next Tuesday when the body is due to discuss a string of high-profile bills, among them the arms package offered by the U.S to help Taiwan defend itself.

The measure, which made the legislative agenda last Tuesday on the 42nd attempt, now appears unlikely to gain any headway soon, after opposition leaders branded it "a sucker's deal" Thursday.

In his latest meeting with Kuomintang leader Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) said the arms purchase plan is neither necessary nor reasonable, noting that the government is offering to pay NT$1 billion for a diesel-electric submarine that should cost NT$300 million.

The ruling DPP administration has proposed buying eight such submarines, 12 P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft and six Patriot III anti-missile systems.

Mobilizing

KMT and PFP legislative caucuses, seeking to ascertain their dominance in the 220-member Legislature, both issued full mobilization orders asking their members to attend yesterday's meeting.

Together, they rammed through the proposal to dismiss the session despite protests from Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union legislators.

"The last Procedure Committee decision is procedurally flawed," KMT legislative leader Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) insisted after the showdown vote. "To redress the wrong, we had no choice but to adjourn the session."

By doing so, they successfully blocked discussion of items on the agenda, which is arranged on a weekly basis every Tuesday.

Last Tuesday, DPP lawmakers got the arms deal and other measures onto the agenda and ended the meeting before their opposition colleagues arrived.

Fearing defection by maverick members, the opposition alliance shied away from a vote on the individual items.

Four PFP lawmakers failed to show up, still bitter about their row with the KMT that resulted from the recent elections for local governors.

To ensure a pan-blue edge, Ma had a breakfast meeting with Nonpartisan Solidarity Union lawmakers to woo their support. The eight-member caucus agreed to back the adjournment but refused to promise help on other issues.

Own agenda

Nonpartisan legislative leader Lin Pin-kun (林炳坤) said his caucus had its own agenda but shared the opinion that DPP lawmakers broke procedural rules during the last Procedure Committee meeting.

DPP legislative leader William Lai (賴清德), who chaired the Procedure Committee meeting, denied any unfair play

"There is no flaw of any kind in the Procedure Committee meeting," an angry Lai told reporters. "It's unimaginable that the opposition lawmakers came to the Legislature just to dismiss the session. Such contempt for their duty is unacceptable. Let the public condemn their inaction."

Frustrated DPP and TSU lawmakers took to the floor right after the vote, saying they opposed the adjournment and warning that continued boycott of the arms package may endanger the nation's security.

Another DPP lawmaker, Hsu Kuo-yung, said he regretted the outcome and related that his party had tried very hard to win over Nonpartisan legislators in a bid to facilitate the weapons purchase plan and other bills, but to no avail.

The ruling camp also had hoped to end the stalemate over Control Yuan nominations as well as the measure to allow the government to probe and confiscate political parties' ill-gotten assets.


Updated : 2021-01-15 23:25 GMT+08:00