Perhaps the opposition’s willingness to take part in the debate, despite the lack of information, is a cover-up attempt; it never performed its monitoring function. The statement that the debate will “help society rethink the issue” is a lame endorsement of the government’s excessively glorified “opinion platform.”
If the ruling party really wants to let the debate turn into a discussion, the premise must be accurate and there must be universal access to information. Without it, there can be no genuine talks.
Instead of letting the public watch a melodrama in which each side sticks to their own preconceived views, it would be better if the government and the opposition came together and drafted a statute for the signing and monitoring of cross-strait agreements, for laws assessing and responding to the impact of economic liberalization, and set up a system for legislative hearings to create a legal basis for the opinion platform.
Once such a platform has been given a legal basis, the government should give detailed explanations about the impact of the agreement on such things as democracy, human rights, industry, employment, income distribution, culture and national security. It should explain its response strategies and fully accept public challenges.
This would also be in line with the ruling party’s view that the results of talks should be transparent.
Liu Ching-yi is a professor in the Graduate Institute of National Development at National Taiwan University.
Translated by Drew Cameron