The future of Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Festival and awards ceremony is again looking uncertain as a group of legislators are seeking to axe the event's entire budget.

Taiwan's parliament has passed the second reading of a motion, brought by 13 legislators of the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), to cut the $434,000 (NT$15m) budget for the festival which is usually held in November or December. The third and final reading of the motion is expected to be passed soon.

The TSU is angered by the festival's refusal to allow Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, to speak at the awards ceremony last year.

Wang Ying-hsiang, chairman of the Taiwan Movies Industry Foundation which organises the event, has attempted to justify the move. "We were just following the previous practices to not invite political leaders to speak on the stage as the event is designed for movie business people," Wang said.

However, some claim the decision was political and designed to appease Beijing. Chen heads the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, while China has repeatedly said that a declaration of independence by Taiwan would lead to attack.

The awards ceremony survived similar threats regarding its funding last year, following complaints that Hong Kong films run off with too many prizes. Hong Kong films picked up the lion's share of awards at last year's ceremony including Fruit Chan's Hollywood Hong Kong, which won prizes for direction, costume design and sound effects. However, a Taiwanese film, Chang Tso-chi's The Best Of Times, won the prize for best feature.