Talk of recalling President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) re-emerged in the pan-green camp as the opposition said Ma had “completely ignored” the people’s interests in the signing of a service trade pact with Beijing that could have devastating effects on local businesses.
“If Ma insists on pushing the agreement through the legislature, which under the Constitution could initiate a recall proposal, it is time to recall him,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said after a meeting with representatives of Chinese herbal medicine associations yesterday.
The Chinese herbal sector was among the 64 local industries that Taiwan will open to Chinese investment under the pact, which politicians and businesspeople said was signed on Friday without prior consultation with the local sectors, comprehensive assessment or transparency.
Su, who began a series of meetings with representatives from the affected sectors to discuss the potential damage, pledged that the DPP caucus would demand clause-by-clause screening and voting on the agreement.
The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) agreed with the DPP, with its party headquarters announcing its intention to propose to recall Ma again following a failed attempt last year.
A recall proposal by the opposition was blocked by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in May last year, days before the end of Ma’s first term.
“If the KMT insisted on putting the pact to a vote as a package, I believe the recall proposal will be submitted,” TSU Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉), adding that the party requested Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) report to the legislature and Ma to make a state of the nation address.
Pan-green politicians continued to criticize the government for what they described as the lack of transparency and hastiness of the controversial agreement, a follow-up to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed in 2010.
Former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in a press release that the agreement should be monitored in the legislature according to the highest standards because the service sector would be the backbone of Taiwan’s economy in the future.
Tsai said Taiwanese could not accept Ma appealing to Beijing without regard for their voices, adding that Beijing could try to gain strategic advantages by controlling key sectors and influencing Taiwan’s society and job market.
The pact should not be put to a vote as a package and those inappropriate clauses should be removed or revised, Tsai said, adding that Taiwan “should do whatever it takes to make the agreement right, even if it means the government has to renegotiate with Beijing.”
Meanwhile, the Ma administration should present an overall strategy for the service sector and a complete set of supporting measures for the service trade pact, she said.
Having studied the text of the pact, DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) yesterday said that there were at least six flaws that put Taiwan at a disadvantage, including China’s subsidies to domestic businesses and the lack of domestic legislation supporting foreign businesses, which would become another form of non-tariff barriers.
Yunlin County Commissioner Su Chi-fen (蘇治芬) said she refused to recognize and implement the agreement.
A joint statement released by several civic groups, including Taiwan Democracy Watch, demanded the government hold off on the agreement until the legislature finishes its review, saying that if the Executive Yuan failed to do so, lawmakers should file a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet.