Fri, Mar 13, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Lawmakers pan MAC for keeping mum over ECFA

CRITICISM In addition to calls for the MAC to make the agreement with China more transparent, a KMT legislator said changes to the name were confusing

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers across party lines yesterday expressed frustration with the Mainland Affairs Council’s (MAC) reluctance to disclose the content of an economic pact that the government plans to sign with Beijing.

MAC Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) told the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee yesterday that the content of the proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) had not been finalized, nor was there a draft.

Lai said the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) was still in the process of soliciting opinions on the proposed agreement.

As soon as the consultation process was completed, the ministry would communicate with the public and industries, she said.

The ministry would make a presentation to the legislature once the evaluation process had been completed, then engage in talks with Beijing, Lai said.

She said the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission was planning to conduct an opinion poll on the issue next week, adding that the MAC would conduct its own surveys.

Harsh criticism from the public and politicians about the planned economic pact before any details have been settled was like “consulting a horoscope before a child is born,” Lai said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) said in response: “It already has a name, so of course people will start consulting horoscopes.”

Lai responded that “even criticism has its worth,” but emphasized that it would make more sense if critics waited until the content of the agreement had been finalized.

Huang urged the MAC to keep the negotiation process transparent and uphold the country’s dignity and sovereignty, saying that the KMT would oppose signing an economic accord that undermines Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Lai told Huang to rest assured that the government would not let the public down in this regard.

Accusing the government of prematurely presenting a half-baked plan, Huang said she was upset and confused about changes to the name of the economic pact.

She proposed that the government use “simple language” to publicize the accord.

Lai said there was a chance that the current title, ECFA, would change again, as the two sides had yet to negotiate on the name.

Huang also criticized the MOEA for canceling a forum that had been scheduled to discuss the economic pact today.

Lai replied that as far as she knew, the forum had been postponed, but she did not know why.

However, the MAC chairwoman said an ECFA would not be on the agenda of the third meeting between Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林).

This does not mean that an ECFA would definitely not be “a talking point,” she said.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had previously said that the agreement would be discussed on the sidelines of the forthcoming cross-strait talks, scheduled to be held in Beijing in May or June.

KMT Legislator Chi Kuo-tung (紀國棟) also criticized the name change.

Chi questioned the accuracy of the government’s prediction that the accord would boost GDP by 3.3 percentage points, dismissing the forecast as a “joke.”

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) said the administration committee should hold a closed-door meeting if Lai felt uncomfortable about divulging the contents of the proposed economic agreement.

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