Her commentary is mainly objective, but also partially incorrect due to the lack of close observation. It is mostly objective because Taiwan’s challenges lie in China, instead of the precarious international environment as the KMT claims. It is partially incorrect because any benefits for Taiwan are going into a few tycoons’ pockets. The public does not get to share these benefits, but they have to share the consequences of the loss of political self-determination.
After the forum reached a consensus on recommending a push for the implementation of the service trade agreement, cross-strait trade in goods and the establishment of a dispute settlement mechanism, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office immediately mobilized groups of Taiwanese businesspeople in China to run ads in Taiwanese newspapers and magazines to show their support for the agreement. This shows that Beijing is impatient over the delay of the legislature’s review of the pact.
In June 2008, the forum recommended a push for direct cross-strait flights. In December of that year, the Ma administration launched regular cross-strait direct charter flights. In July 2009, the forum recommended putting the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) on the agenda. The following year the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits signed the ECFA.
The decisionmaking mode of the CCP-dominated forum is an indication of China’s new order to Ma, who will now make every effort to pledge loyalty to Beijing with the help of the KMT’s legislative majority. Since the opposition camp and the public are treated as outsiders, how should we respond?
After debating the service trade agreement for more than five months, many grassroots organizations are calling for a restart to the negotiations, and the results of a government opinion poll echoed these calls.
Since the pact involves the opening of more than 1,000 sectors affecting 4.23 million Taiwanese, it should not be approved or implemented hastily in a nontransparent operation without thorough industrial assessments and communication with the parties involved.
Before a clause-by-clause legislative review of the pact, the ruling and opposition camps should formulate a set of regulations determining how the legislature should handle cross-strait agreements. Then, the legislature can go into a substantial review of the pact according to this, now legalized, procedure, to strengthen its monitoring of the government.
In a democracy, if the government signs an agreement with another country without the approval of the legislative and without having built a public consensus, that agreement will lack the legitimacy of having been reviewed. Before sending the agreement to the legislature for approval, the Ma administration should build a domestic consensus.
Translated by Eddy Chang