'PAN-GREENS' URGE KMT TO SUPPORT U.S. ARMS PROCUREMENT
Central News Agency
Taipei, June 21 (CNA) Lawmakers of the "pan-green camp" of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) urged opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan Tuesday to support their proposal to hold a special legislative session to review the Cabinet-proposed budget for a NT$480 billion (US$15.33 billion) arms procurement package from the United States.
Calling Lien's attention to the continued military buildup by China and its threat to the security of Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific region, William C.T. Lai, a whip of the DPP's legislative caucus, said Lien should be responsible to history.
Lai was responding to Lien's claim that the DPP government should be held responsible for the deadlock facing the arms procurement plan.
In a letter sent recently to a group of members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Lien accused the DPP government of procrastinating for three years before it presented a special budget request for NT$610.8 billion in June 2004 to buy a squadron of 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft, six Patriot PAC-III anti-missile batteries and eight diesel-electric submarines.
Although the amount of the procurement was later reduced to NT$480 billion because of exchange rate fluctuations and the exclusion of a plan to assemble the submarines in Taiwan, the Cabinet failed to explain to the nation why the figure skyrocketed from the originally disclosed NT$280 billion, Lien said.
Lien also mentioned that a referendum held last year on whether to purchase more anti-missile armaments was declared invalid because less than half of the eligible voters took part in the poll.
Lai expressed his regret over Lien's allegations, saying it is the KMT that has for the past two legislative sessions been blocking the budget bill from being included in the legislature's agenda.
Lai said there has not been a huge discrepancy in the amount for the procurement as Lien has claimed, with the exception of that which is a result of changes made to reflect exchange rate fluctuations and the exclusion of a plan to assemble the submarines in Taiwan.
Ho Min-hao, convener of the TSU legislative caucus, called Lien a liar for blaming the DPP for the deadlock of the arms procurement plan.
According to Ho, the amount of the procurement skyrocketed mainly because the "pan-blue alliance" of the KMT and People First Party (PFP) insisted that the submarines be assembled in Taiwan.
Also, the KMT and PFP have jointly obstructed the inclusion of the budget bill in the legislature's agenda on as many as 72 occasions, Ho pointed out.
However, PFP Legislator Chang Hsien-yao, who also serves as director of the party's Policy Research Center, said the PFP strongly opposes holding a special legislative session to review the arms procurement plan and financing the procurement with a special budget.
In addition, the PFP will continue to boycott the procurement unless President Chen Shui-bian apologizes for his unfounded claim that PFP Chairman James Soong had met secretly in the United States with Chen Yunlin, head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, Chang said.
Meanwhile, Chen Chieh-ju, secretary-general of the minority Non-Partisan Solidarity Union, said his party supports the arms procurement but believes adjustments should be made to its amount and items to avoid wasting money.
(By Y.F. Low)
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|