Hakka groups yesterday criticized President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for forcing Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers to vote for the government’s decision to relax a ban on US beef. The groups said they would launch campaigns to recall Hakka legislators and those elected from Hakka areas if they voted in favor of lifting the ban on Tuesday.
“In 2008, about one-third of the nation’s Hakka community voted for Ma, and despite his bad performance in the first term of his presidency, one-third of Hakka voters still trusted him in the January election,” Taiwan Hakka Society chairman Chang Yeh-shen (張葉森) told a news conference in Taipei.
“However, since his re-election [in January] and his inauguration [in May] he has broken that trust,” Chang added.
Most people voted for Ma because they believed the economy would do better under his stewardship. However, the ongoing debate over a capital gains tax and rising consumer prices, partially triggered by increases to fuel and electricity prices, have only made the economy worse, he said.
“If Ma is unable to fix the economy, we expect him to at least safeguard public health. However, he insists on relaxing the ban on US beef imports even though most people are still worried about the safety of US beef,” Chang said. “In addition to the issue of ractopamine, let’s not forget that US beef could also carry the prion that triggers [bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as] mad cow disease.”
“Prions are more horrifying than nuclear waste, because you can bury nuclear waste in underground tunnels, but once the prion is there, it will spread through the food chain,” he added.
Chiu Rong-jeo (邱榮舉), a professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of National Development, said that bad policies are far worse than corruption.
“We are a democracy, so why doesn’t the government listen to the people when it makes policy?” Chiu said. “The Hakka community has been very supportive of Ma, but now we are mad, we’ll work and will work with different groups to stop him.”
Alliance of Taiwanese Hakkas president Yiong Cong-ziin (楊長鎮) said that Ma agreed to relax the ban on US beef before his re--election so the US would help in his re-election bid.
“Ma has said there could be serious consequences if the ban on US beef is not lifted, but I think he is allowing the US and China to interfere in Taiwan’s domestic affairs, which is a serious consequence of what he did during the election,” Yiong said.
“In addition, it’s completely inappropriate for the leader of a country to threaten his own people and lawmakers in such a way,” he added.
The groups are organizing forums in Hakka communities across the country to tell people what the government is really doing.
“If lawmakers of Hakka origin or those lawmakers elected in Hakka areas vote to lift the ban, we will launch a recall campaign against them,” Chang said.