Fri, Oct 21, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Tsai slams Ma’s ‘simplistic’ proposal

By Chris Wang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporters

The recklessness and inconsistency displayed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in formulating a proposal for a peace agreement with China within a decade raises great concerns over his ability to handle major cross-strait talks, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.

Ma’s explanation of his initiative is “loose and simplistic,” Tsai said. “We didn’t see any sophisticated deliberation and planning behind the proposal.”

The remarks came in response to Ma’s announcement yesterday that the government would obtain the public’s approval through a referendum before pushing for a peace pact with China.

Ma’s position on referendums is inconsistent, Tsai said, because he opposed one when he was pushing for negotiations for the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which turned out to be neither transparent nor supervised by the legislature.

While the DPP has always called for a peaceful framework based on bilateral negotiations between sovereign entities, Ma’s initiative would proceed under a “one China” framework, which would leave Taiwan without bargaining chips, she said at a campaign stop in Greater Taichung.

Tsai added that Ma appeared to be manipulating the critical issue, which would have a great impact on Taiwan’s future, to benefit his presidential campaign.

At a separate setting yesterday, DPP spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said that because Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) told the legislature on Wednesday that a referendum on the initiative was not necessary if most people supported it, only for the Presidential Office to later say that a referendum would be required, the Ma administration’s position on referendums was inconsistent.

Ma referred to his proposal as a peace “agreement,” which is usually signed between two belligerents, rather than a country-to-country “treaty,” DPP spokesman Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑) said, adding that Ma’s approach risked placing Taiwan under the “one China” framework.

“Ma’s impromptu initiative on this major issue is of great concern and is questionable,” Liang said.

DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) described Ma’s talk about a referendum as a “two-handed tactic” to benefit his presidential campaign.

“He has never supported referendums in the past and now he’s supportive — this is clearly a campaign strategy,” he said.

Ma used to list the removal of Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan as a prerequisite for bilateral talks, DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said.

“Now he’s grown tired of bringing it up,” Yeh said.

On the pan-blue side, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators rallied behind Ma and his proposal.

KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said seeking a referendum prior to talks on a peace treaty was a “brilliant tactic” because now “the KMT is running the show.”

“Now the ball is in the DPP’s court. If the DPP rejects the idea, could it be that it is against permanent peace across the Taiwan Strait and the contention that Taiwan’s future should be decided by the people?” Lin said.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said a referendum on whether to start negotiations with China on a peace agreement cannot be interpreted as a plebiscite for independence or for unification.

The idea proposed by Ma could put the issue of the future direction of the country up for discussion during the campaign period, above the level of debates on cross-strait policy and competition among political parties in the election, he said.

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