Thu, Apr 01, 2010 - Page 8 News List

Suspicions abound over Ma’s ECFA deadline

By Jerome Keating

It is two years into the reign of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) the incompetent, and it appears the one-trick pony is getting desperate to defend his efforts to drag Taiwan into economic dependency on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) through an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA).

The latest effort of Ma and his combined hired gun and snake-oil salesman King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) is a string of expensive TV ads describing how the country will totally lose its competitiveness if it does not give the government a blank check to sign an ECFA.

Apparently, if an agreement is not signed by June, it is all over for Taiwan. Can you believe such absurdities?

For almost two years, Ma’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government has been preaching that not only is an ECFA absolutely essential, but that it is being completely transparent about the agreement.

Why, then, after two years of “transparency” does no one know the contents of the ECFA? Why, then, after two years of transparency does no one know what its commitments are?

Why do negotiations remain so secret and why is there an absolute rush to get it all done and signed as quickly as possible?

The bottom line is that if an ECFA is so absolutely essential and so obvious that it should be as plain as the nose on one’s face, why then does the Ma government need to be sponsoring high-powered TV ads to sell this “obviousness”?

At first, Ma’s government took the position that an ECFA was not a matter of concern for the legislature; that it was strictly a trade matter to be arranged by the government.

Back then, it was something similar to the secret trade negotiations on US beef done by former National Security Council chief Su Chi (蘇起) that were supposed to be for the good of the nation. Everyone knows how that ended up.

Then, when Ma’s go-it-alone tactics did not work, he grudgingly bowed to pressure and said that his government would bring the agreement before the legislature for its stamp of approval — after it is signed.

Other questions arise about this so-called obvious need and rush by Ma.

Ma’s government has also said that it would be willing to meet with anyone at any time to explain the agreement, yet Ma has long avoided an open discussion with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and certainly won’t allow the ECFA to be made subject to a referendum.

All that has come of the government’s meet-anyone-at-any-time proposals is the continued propaganda that ECFA is absolutely necessary.

Necessary for what? Secret commitments to China?

The latest is that Taiwan’s TV stations are being bombarded with ads reminiscent of late Qing-era politics, saying how the country must absolutely sign an ECFA or it will sink. The ad states that if Taiwan does not sign an ECFA, it will be marginalized like North Korea.

Why are these ads so necessary to “sell” what Ma claims is so obvious? Perhaps more importantly, who is paying for these ads? The KMT, Taiwanese taxpayers or worse, the PRC?

These are the troubles that beset Taiwan as the one-trick pony refuses to let the people vote on a referendum over something so crucial to their future.

These are the matters that Ma insists must be decided before June.

Does Ma have a two-year window from China that expires at that time?

Jerome Keating is a writer based in Taipei.

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