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Friday, November 03, 2000, updated at 16:33(GMT+8)

Taiwan "Parliament" Postpones Bill to Impeach Chen Shui-bian

Taiwan's "parliament" Friday postponed until next week its review of a bill to impeach Chen Shui-bian for scrapping a partly-built nuclear plant as slogan-chanting supporters and opponents rallied outside.

"Parliamentarian" Chen Hung-chi of the leading opposition Kuomintang (KMT) told reporters "this was not the right time to discuss the bill" when Taiwan needs concerted efforts to recover from Typhoon Xangsane.

The typhoon battered the island with its worst storm in 30 years leaving at least 54 people dead and another 32 missing.

"Parliament", known as "Legislative Yuan", said the review originally scheduled for Friday would now most likely to take place next Tuesday or Friday, MP Chen said.

The crisis was sparked by the provincial government's announcement on Friday last week that it would scrap a partly-built 5.6 billion US dollar nuclear power plant in northern Taiwan despite opposition objections.

KMT legislator Ting Shou-chung who initiated the bill was also reluctant to push it through.

"We'll wait until the best timing and full support of the general public," Ting said.

Analysts here believe growing public objections to taking draconian punitive measures against Chen may the reason for the postponement.

Opponents of the bill feared the move lacked legitimacy and would destabilise the political environment.

Outside parliament, nearly 1,000 slogan-chanting demonstrators voiced their support for Chen from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The demonstrators, from the Taiwan Independence Party, the Green Party and some other civil conservationist groups, kept shouting "Recall Wang Chin-ping" and "Recall Ting Shou-chung."

Wang is the parliament speaker from the KMT who favored the impeachment bill.

Hundreds of workers from state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) also rallied outside parliament to support the continuation of the controversial nuclear power plant project.

In Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan Province, a man was injured by a group of pro-Chen supporters protesting outside Wang's office.

The unnamed man was chased and hit by the angry protestors after he yelled back at then, and televsion footage showed blood streaming down his face.

The KMT immediately denounced the use of violence to settle the controversy.

"The new government should not have stood idlly by ... The violence was nothing but contempt for the existing constitutional democracy, and could hamper reasonable discussion on the issue," KMT spokesman Jason Hu said.

The political storm erupted after KMT chairman Lien Chan told Chen in a meeting not to scrap the nuclear plant project without consulting the public.

But the provincial government scrapped the project barely an hour after the meeting, a move which infuriated the opposition.

However, Chen - who ended the KMT's 50-year rule when he was elected in April "presidential" polls and took over the top job in May - justified his decision saying it "was a matter of conscience."

The DPP said the new nuclear plant would generate more nuclear waste which already troubled the island.

MP Ting said he had got backing from 141 legislators from the KMT and the other two major opposition parties - the People First Party (PFP) set up by former KMT member James Soong and the right-wing New Party (NP).

Under the "constitution", impeachment is a three-step process. First 25 percent of parliament must agree to discuss the move and 66 percent of legislators then have to agree to put the motion to a nationwide vote.

Eligible voters across Taiwan would then vote on whether to impeach Chen and Lu. If the majority of voters voted in favour of impeachment the two would be removed.

The KMT controls 115 seats in the 221-seat parliament. The PFP has 17 seats, the NP nine seats while the ruling DPP has only 68 seats. Independents have 12 seats. [Source:]

In This Section

Taiwan's "parliament" Friday postponed until next week its review of a bill to impeach Chen Shui-bian for scrapping a partly-built nuclear plant as slogan-chanting supporters and opponents rallied outside.

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