President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will meet with opposition leaders every six months and has already given orders for his aides to draft a schedule, Presidential Office spokesperson Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) was quoted as saying yesterday.
However, the details of the meeting have yet to be confirmed, Fan Chiang said in an article published in the Chinese-language United Daily News.
The meetings are expected to start after Ma’s inauguration on May 20, but if everything proceeds smoothly, they could begin prior to the inauguration, the Central News Agency reported.
Ma’s aides said that aside from the meetings with opposition figures, the president has also proposed meeting with civilian organizations every month.
They added that the basic concept of the two meetings would be the same in that Ma, who is beginning his second term, hoped to gain a better understanding of public views.
Opposition parties represent the views of political organizations, while civic organizations represent diverse opinions from different sectors of society, the aides said.
Ma’s “long stays” in local communities and his “With the People” election campaign series were predicated on the idea of the president stepping out of the Presidential Office and “truly understanding” the lives, thoughts and problems of the common people, the aides said.
Over the past three-and-a-half years, Ma would, before making a major policy decision, not only ask the opinion of government agencies and professionals, but also try to understand how the public felt about the issue, they said.
In his second term, Ma hopes to hear more of the thoughts of civilians and grassroots groups to strengthen dialogue between the government and the public and incorporate the ideas into his policies, they added.
Ma had already made known his wish to meet opposition leaders and had publicly extended invitations, with former Presidential Office secretary-general Chan Chun-po (詹春柏) visiting the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus to extend Ma’s invitation to DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), they said.
However, that meeting fell through, and the first meeting between the two occurred on the debate platform for the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), the aides said, adding that Ma felt “somewhat regretful.”
DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said yesterday the DPP believed it was more important that Ma respect the legislature, listen to the public and avoid making unilateral decisions.
Ma is in the habit of making “one man, one party” decisions and ignoring the voice of the minority, Chen said.
The Ma administration must consider that half of the general populace remains cautious about cross-strait issues and harbors doubts about Ma, he said.
Ma cannot just ignore these doubts, Chen said, adding that whether the DPP chairperson attends the meetings would depend on how the president handles them.
People First Party (PFP) spokesperson Wu Kun-yu (吳崑玉) said yesterday that details of the proposed meetings remained unclear and the party would reserve its judgement and see how Ma handles the meetings.