Wed, Apr 28, 2010 - Page 8 News List

THE LIBERTY TIMES EDITORIAL: KMT should heed public’s wishes

The signature campaign for the petition to initiate a referendum on the signing of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China launched by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) along with 50 other associations is coming along smoothly. It passed the initial threshold of 86,000 signatures in a very short time and without waiting for the Central Election Committee’s decision, the campaign is now proceeding to the second stage, which requires 860,000 signatures.

It is perhaps this development, along with public anger, that has now caused the government to have a strategic change of heart. First, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said that he “doesn’t oppose referendums,” while Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Secretary-General King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) added that “the KMT would not object nor would President Ma [Ying-jeou (馬英九)].”

Although there are still some reasons to suspect political scheming, this development is a welcome one. This change shows that the government is aware of what is going on and that there has been some kind of response.

The government has said it opposes a referendum on the ECFA issue. The official Web site of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) publicly states, “there are many ways for public participation. Public meetings and public opinion polls are feasible options.” However, referendums are not the “only choice” and “considering international convention and domestic majority support for an ECFA, there is probably no need to waste national resources by organizing a referendum.”

Ma and Wu’s public ­statements against a referendum are too numerous to record here. The fact is that Ma has never agreed to hold a referendum on the proposed ECFA.

Judging from the government’s frequent insincerity, it would be meaningless to try to find out why Wu and King are lying. However, it would be worth investigating what kind of ECFA referendum the KMT does not object to. King has set the tone for this issue by saying the KMT would not object to a referendum if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) still insisted on one after the legislature has reviewed the agreement. Based on the DPP’s original insistence on a referendum, this means that the KMT would object if Taiwan’s citizenry had first demanded a referendum on an ECFA and that the result of that referendum would decide if the people would authorize the government to negotiate an ECFA. This is not only arrogant, but also an unambiguous violation of the Referendum Act (公民投票法).

The wounds caused by the KMT government signing the beef import protocol with the US in August last year are still felt. Although the referendum proposal launched by the Consumers’ Foundation already passed the first threshold and the legislature banned the import of cow organs, the government still inked the protocol with the US. This is not only harmful to Taiwan’s international reputation, but the remedial measures are also insufficient, as the US has declared that it will export beef tongues and testes to Taiwan.

Even worse, the government accepts no blame. The health minister even suggested that people could choose not to eat these products and the economic minister said in the legislature that such beef parts were legal. These people are crossing their fingers and asking us to hope for the best. This is proof that the government is incapable of carrying out international negotiations and defending the rights of the Taiwanese public. And then the KMT still has the gall to say that it will sign an ECFA agreement with China before putting it to the legislature?

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