Opposition parties yesterday vowed to begin a “10-year resistance” against the government’s plan to sign an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China, including organizing large-scale protests calling for a referendum on the controversial pact.
The Executive Yuan’s Referendum Review Committee on Thursday night voted 12-4 against an opposition-supported referendum proposal asking voters whether they agreed that the government should sign an ECFA with China. The committee said the question did not fall under what was allowed under the Referendum Act (公民投票法).
Both the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) assailed the decision and raised concerns of interference by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.
Minutes after the decision was announced, the TSU — which initiated the referendum proposal — released a sternly worded statement saying that the committee’s decision went against the Constitution.
“The verdict is completely unacceptable,” TSU Chairperson Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) said. “The committee’s reasons for rejecting the proposal are unreasonable, illegal and unconstitutional.”
Although this was the second ECFA referendum proposal rejected by the committee, the TSU vowed to immediately begin preparations for another — a move the DPP said it would support.
“Thursday’s decision is proof of the government denying people their basic civil rights,” DPP spokesperson Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said.
Last year, the DPP-initiated referendum proposal, which would have asked voters if they agreed that the government should hold a referendum before signing an ECFA, was also rejected by the committee on the grounds that it was based on a hypothetical scenario that did not exist.
The 21 members of the Executive Yuan’s Referendum Review Committee
● Chao Yung-mau (趙永茂) — presiding over the meeting, so he did not vote, Chairman of the committee, dean of the College of Social Sciences, National Taiwan University.
Those who voted against the Taiwan Solidarity Union’s (TSU) referendum proposal:
● Bruce Liao (廖元豪) — associate professor, Department of Law, National Chengchi University.
● Ho Hsu-ling (何旭苓) — attorney
● Wu Yung-chien (吳永乾) — professor, Department of Law, Shih Hsin University
● Francis Hu (胡祖慶) — associate professor, Department of Political Science, Tunghai University
● Yu Ching-shin (游清鑫) — research fellow, Election Study Center, National Chengchi University
● Ji Jun-chen (紀俊臣) — professor, Department of Tourism, Ming Chuan University
● Shiau Chyuan-jenq (蕭全政) — professor, Department of Political Science, National Taiwan University / Member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-affiliated think tank National Policy Foundation
● Chao Mei-chun (趙梅君) — attorney
● Chen Yuan-ying (陳媛英) — member, the Civil Service Protection and Training Commission, Examination Yuan
● Swei Duh-ching (隋杜卿) — associate professor, Graduate Institute of Development Studies, National Chengchi University; member of the KMT-affiliated think tank National Policy Foundation
● Chu Hsin-min (朱新民) — professor, Department of Diplomacy, National Chengchi University
● Carl Shaw (蕭高彥) — research fellow, Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, Academia Sinica
Those who voted for the TSU’s referendum proposal:
● Yang Wan-ying (楊婉瑩) — associate professor, Department of Political Science, National Chengchi University
● Kuo Lin-yung (郭林勇) — attorney and former Taiwan Solidarity Union legislator
● Chen Don-yun (陳敦源) — associate professor, Department of Public Administration, National Chengchi University
● Chen Miao-fen (陳妙芬) — associate professor, Department of Law, National Taiwan University
Cast a blank ballot:
● Chiang Min-hsiu (江明修) — professor, Department of Public Administration, National Chengchi University
Left the meeting early and did not cast a ballot:
● Arthur Ding (丁仁方) — professor, Department of Political Science, National Chengkung University
Those absent from the meeting:
● Liao Da-chi (廖達琪) — professor and director, Institute of Political Science, National Sun Yat-sen University
● Lee Pei-shan (李佩珊) — associate professor, Department of Political Science, National Chungcheng University
— PREPARED BY STAFF REPORTER LOA IOK-SIN
A similar proposal by DPP lawmakers calling for the passage of a bill creating an ECFA referendum was blocked by the KMT-controlled legislature in April.
DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that based on experience, “we knew that [the TSU’s] ECFA referendum proposal would be rejected due to pressure from the Chinese government on the KMT.”
“However, this will not stop the DPP and the TSU from working hard and continuing to push for an ECFA referendum,” he said.
The DPP said it had begun plans to hold a large rally calling for an ECFA referendum later this month. Details of the planned rally could be announced by next Wednesday.
Ahead of the large-scale protest, the opposition is holding a referendum rally at Kaohsiung City’s Glory Pier today, with DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) giving speeches.
The DPP and the TSU say that a plebiscite is necessary to give the public a say in the controversial trade agreement.
Critics of the trade pact have also said that based on WTO rules, Taiwan and China would be forced to open up to 90 or 95 percent of their markets to cross-strait trade within 10 years, if an ECFA were signed.
Saying that the influx of cheaper Chinese goods could have a serious impact on Taiwanese jobs and vulnerable industries, Julian Kuo (郭正亮), spokesman of the DPP’s ECFA response team, said the party would begin a “10-year resistance” against the effects of an ECFA, if it were signed.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his administration have maintained that an ECFA with China, which aims to lower cross-strait tariffs, would benefit Taiwan’s export-based economy and aid its chances of signing FTAs with other countries. The Chinese foreign ministry said on Tuesday, however, that Beijing “firmly objects” to Taiwan signing official agreements with China’s diplomatic allies.