The political deadlock between students occupying the Legislative Yuan and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is unlikely to end soon, because Ma is not willing to concede and has been evading the students’ demands, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials said yesterday.
“When students demanded the organization of a citizens’ constitutional conference, Ma said he would convene a national trade conference instead. Knowing Ma, that was the kind of thing he always did — evading the core issue and shifting the focus to something else,” DPP Policy Research Committee executive director Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said.
“Getting right to the point is not Ma’s style,” Wu said.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
While the DPP supports the causes and demands of the Sunflower movement — which has captured the country’s attention since the students stormed and occupied the legislative floor on March 18, and asked the government to withdraw and renegotiate the controversial deal amid concern it would severely undermine Taiwan’s economy — the party currently has no plan to intervene in the movement, Wu said.
The DPP has been playing a supporting role in the movement and has no plan to change that, Wu said.
Department of International Affairs director Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠) said the biggest concern now is that Ma has no exit strategy and does not appear to plan one.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
“It seems like he would keep on playing the China card, trying to reassure people that everything would be fine after the trade pact takes effect,” Liu said.
“However, for some people, their worst fear is not how Ma would deal with pressure from China, but that the president has already established some sort of collaborative partnership with Beijing,” he added.
One of Ma’s biggest mistakes in the controversy is that he is still convinced that Taiwanese believe that economics and politics can be separated in dealing with cross-strait issues, Liu said.
That may have been the case before, but the ongoing mass protest shows that the public has come to realize that the service trade agreement would have greater political than economic implications, Liu said.
The DPP’s counterproposal to the service trade agreement has been relatively underreported since the student movement became the center of attention two weeks ago, DPP Department of China Affairs director Honigmann Hong (洪財隆) said.
After a comprehensive review and discussion with its think tank, the party recommended that at least 24 items on the trade agreement’s sector-specific commitment list — including banking, printing and publishing, and Type II telecommunications — should be reconsidered, he said.
Hong added that the DPP has never opposed free trade and signing free-trade agreements with other countries, but pursuing trade liberalization with China — which has not ruled out annexing Taiwan by force if necessary — requires greater scrutiny and transparency.
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