President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday reiterated the government’s open stance on the US beef imports issue and insisted that his administration had not made any promises to the US, pledging not to risk public health over the issue.
“There are no presumptions or timetables in the matter and the government did not make any promises to the US. Some people have assumed that we would open up the country to US beef imports after the elections, but that is not true,” he said in Yunlin County.
The possibility of relaxing restrictions on US beef imports has led to heated debate across the political spectrum since the presidential election.
Opposition lawmakers on Friday boycotted Premier Sean Chen's (陳冲) policy address for six hours until he promised not to lift a ban before June on US beef containing traces of the feed additive ractopamine without the legislature’s consent.
Ma said yesterday that Chen and the lawmakers reached a consensus on the issue and that the government would continue to prioritize public health and food safety.
Ma and vice president-elect Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) traveled to Yunlin County, Chiayi County and Greater Tainan as they met with presidential election campaign staff to thank them for their dedication during the campaign.
Ma detailed the government’s policies in the previous four years and promised to facilitate reforms, while continuing to promote cross-strait relations during his second term.
“The next four years will be extremely important for Taiwan ... I will defend the sovereignty of the Republic of China and ensure” national security is protected when handling any issue that involves Taiwan’s national interests, he said in Yunlin.
Ma, in his capacity as KMT chairman, later traveled to Kinmen County as part of his post-election thanksgiving tour, and stayed a night at the family residence of Fujian Provincial Government Chairman James Hsueh (薛承泰).
The “home-stay” trip in Kinmen marked the first such trip Ma has made since he was re-elected last month.
He had stayed with farmers and small-business owners around the nation during the presidential campaign as part of his effort to understand local issues.
Ma has asked members of his new Cabinet to undertake home-stays and increase interaction with local residents.
Such trips would help them better understand issues of public concern, while allowing them to promote policies directly to the public, he told Cabinet officials during a meeting at KMT headquarters on Thursday.