Thu, Jun 19, 2008 - Page 1 News List

DPP lawmakers criticize ‘Mr Ma’

NAME GAMESEF chief Chiang Pin-kung backed Ma’s approach and he said the MAC had told him to address Chinese President Hu Jintao as ‘Chairman Hu’

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip William Lai, right, holds up a copy of the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) during a press conference in Taipei yesterday as he criticizes President Ma Ying-jeou for agreeing to be addressed as “Mr Ma” during meetings with Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin later this year. PHOTO: LIU HSIN-DE, TAIPEI TIMES

PHOTO: LIU HSIN-DE, TAIPEI TIMES

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers accused President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday of belittling himself and eroding national dignity by agreeing to be addressed as “Mr Ma” when he meets Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) later this year.

The DPP lawmakers, led by caucus whip William Lai (賴清德), told a press conference that they could not accept Ma’s view of the title he should use in talks with Chen.

Ma told reporters at the Presidential Office on Tuesday that having the head of ARATS address him as “Mr Ma” while he calls him “Mr Chen” would be “the best way to avoid the question of inequality and put aside disputes.”

The position of president is the symbol of the nation, Lai said, accusing Ma of humbling himself and damaging Taiwan’s national dignity. He urged Ma not to belittle himself in his own country.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) defended Ma yesterday.

The public should not focus too much on the titles Chen and Ma use, Lee said.

“I think the title ‘Mr’ is a very neutral term,” Lee said, adding that concrete development in cross-strait affairs and reciprocity were more important than titles.

Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) also backed Ma.

“[Ma’s] proposal has made the Ma-Chen meeting possible, which is good,” Chiang said when questioned by DPP Legislator Su Cheng-ching (蘇震清) at the legislature’s Home and Nations Committee yesterday. “We’ve called him Mr Ma on some occasions.”

When Chiang met Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) last Friday after inking agreements with his ARATS counterpart, Chiang called Hu “Chairman Hu” in recognition of his role as chairman of the Chinese Communist Party.

“Why didn’t you call Hu Jintao ‘Mr Hu’? Hu called Chiang “Chairman Chiang” and [you] think it is fine that Ma calls Chen ‘Mr Chen’?” Su said.

Chiang said he had been told by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) before he left for China to call Hu “Chairman Hu.”

Asked by DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) how he would introduce Ma to Chen in Taiwan, Chiang said he would follow Ma’s suggestion and call him “Mr Ma.”

“Everyone is clear that Mr Ma is the president of the Republic of China,” Chiang said, adding that when Chen visits, “[I] believe he would know [Ma] is the president of the Republic of China.”

Additional reporting by Flora Wang and staff writer

Also See: EDITORIAL: You’re the president, act like one

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