Saying that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) “is not the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and will not become the KMT,” the DPP late on Friday evening released a statement seeking to allay Sunflower movement activists’ concerns over its proposed bill on monitoring cross-strait agreements.
However, the DPP’s latest proposed legislation is so riddled with ambiguous and problematic terms that it cannot blame anyone for questioning whether its position has changed.
In the previous legislature, the DPP’s proposed legislation was called “regulations for handling agreements between Taiwan and China”; however, the latest version put forward in this legislature has changed the names “Taiwan” and “China” to the “Taiwan area” and “Mainland area.”
The DPP caucus said the change was made in accordance with the Republic of China Constitution and laws on cross-strait issues to “avoid controversy.”
The caucus’ explanation baffled and enraged many.
After all, is the DPP not aware that a Taiwanese national consciousness has been forged among the public these past years and that various polls have clearly indicated that most Taiwanese reject the idea of “one country, two areas” as a way of describing cross-strait relations?
Not to mention that by using the terms “Taiwan area” and “Mainland area” to refer to the relations between Taiwan and China, national sovereignty is degraded, and the DPP’s description of cross-strait relations is in essence no different from the KMT’s.
Many remember that the 2014 Sunflower movement against the KMT government’s handling of a trade in services agreement with China was sparked by former KMT legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠), who rushed through the trade agreement in 30 seconds.
At the time, Chang, convener of the legislative Internal Administration Committee, said the agreement was taken out of committee review because the deadline for completion of its review had expired.
The DPP’s draft leaves room for a possible recurrence of “the Chang Ching-chung scenario,” as the proposed legislation states that “the official signed version could be filed for reference.”
Another flaw in the DPP draft is that it does not apply retroactively to past agreements or to negotiations already under way; as such, it raises public concerns over whether it would mean the public and the incoming government cannot do anything but accept the results reached under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration.
How would a DPP government be any different from that of the KMT if it were to continue on the same path as Ma’s China trade policy?
The DPP draft also fails to include clear definitions when it comes to sovereignty-related negotiations to ensure and safeguard the right of Taiwanese to decide the nation’s fate, and it lacks guidelines to explain how it would engage the public on agreements.
Both president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and premier-designate Lin Chuan (林全) said that the incoming government would safeguard Taiwan’s national interests and uphold the nation’s dignity.
However, words and pledges are not enough, as over the past eight years of Ma’s governance, the public has had enough of empty promises.
The DPP must back its words with actions by specifying in its proposed drafts how legislative oversight and civic participation could be guaranteed.
In Taiwan, the expression “with a change of seat comes a change of mind” is a popular way of describing a politician or a political party whose stance vacillates according to what position they hold.
Hopefully the DPP will not succumb to this.
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