Sun, Mar 23, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Decisive victory for Ma Ying-jeou

FIRST ON THE AGENDAMa, who has promised to strike a peace deal in a bid to end decades of cross-strait tension, called on China to dismantle its missiles aimed at Taiwan before the two sides can engage in peace talks

By Mo Yan-chih, Ko Shu-ling and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH AGENCIES

At a post-election press conference, Ma said he will seek to visit as many countries as possible before his inauguration on May 20, but added that he had no immediate plans to visit China.

Ma acknowledged there were obstacles in cross-strait relations, but vowed to begin normalizing economic relations immediately after his inauguration.

"Measures like direct air links and allowing mainland tourists to visit Taiwan will be my priorities, as some of the content is already negotiated and consensus has been reached," he said at his campaign office.

The "cross-strait common market" concept, Ma said, will be a relatively long-term goal.

Ma also promised to negotiate a peace agreement and the issue of international space with China, on the condition that China first removes the missiles it has targeting Taiwan.

On relations with Washington, Ma promised to make Taiwan a "responsible stakeholder" and a "peacemaker" in the region, and strengthen the nation's defense relations with the US by maintaining the defense budget at no less than 3 percent of the GDP and keeping up arms purchases with the US.

When asked to comment on his Cabinet, Ma said he will demand personal integrity from future members, and promised to seek cooperation from other parties.

Ma also promised to consider non-KMT members when appointing ministers for the Control Yuan, Examination Yuan and Judicial Yuan.

Ma said he had spoken with Hsieh after the election result, lauding his rival for his grace in defeat.

"I am touched that he asked his supporters not to make a stand against the election result. I thank him for his statesmanship," he said.

The failure of yesterday's referendums, meanwhile, means that out of six referendums held since 2004, none have managed to reach the threshold to be considered valid.

The DPP's referendum attracted 35.82 percent of voters, or 6,201,677 votes, with 5,529,230 affirmative votes, 352,359 negative votes and 320,088 invalid ballots cast, while the KMT's version garnered a total of 6,187,118 votes or 35.74 voter turnout. It received 5,686,369 positive votes and 724,060 negative ballots, while another 500,749 were invalid ballots.

The US, Russia and Britain were all sharply critical of the DPP's referendum ahead of the polls, calling it needlessly provocative and an attempt to alter the cross-strait "status quo."

Reflecting on the failure of the referendums, Government Information Office Minister Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) said yesterday failures would not impede Taiwan's determination to join the world body, as more than 80 percent of people in a recent survey agreed that Taiwan should apply for UN membership.

Shieh said that the threshold for eligible results and the KMT's effective boycott of the referendums were to blame for the failure.

"Setting such a high turnout threshold for a referendum to be valid is irrational. For example, even if 7 million voters cast `yes' votes, the referendum would still be considered invalid," Shieh said.

Shieh said the government regretted that the KMT had boycotted the referendums just because they were to be held in tandem with the presidential election.

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