Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday urged president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to face up to three major challenges that he said lie ahead after she is sworn in on May 20: imports of US pork with ractopamine residue, the OBI Pharma Inc (台灣浩鼎) scandal and “Panama Papers”-related issues.
Wu made the remarks on the sidelines of an award ceremony held by the Chinese Mercy Love Association in Taipei, days after Council of Agriculture minister-designate Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻) said in an interview that Taiwan does not have the leverage to refuse imports of US pork.
“Allegations emerged last year, before Tsai was elected president, that she promised the US to open the nation’s market to US pork containing residue of the leanness-promoting feed additive ractopamine. Other presidential candidates questioned her regarding the allegations during the campaign,” Wu said. “Now the truth has finally been revealed.”
Wu said that despite the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) policy of following Japanese and South Korean standards allowing up to 10 parts per billion of ractopamine residue in beef imports, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had resisted efforts to change legislation and even occupied the Legislative Yuan when the KMT sought to relax the ban on imports of beef.
Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) allowed imports of US beef containing ractopamine in 2002, but banned the meat after a case of mad cow disease was reported in Washington state, Wu said.
“Things changed in 2006, when Tsai was serving as vice premier. The government reopened the nation’s doors to US beef containing ractopamine on Jan. 25 that year, only to see an outbreak of mad cow disease in the US on March 13. However, in that instance, the government did not halt imports of US beef,” Wu said.
“It was apparent at the time that the Cabinet had no regard for the safety and health of Taiwanese,” Wu said, adding that the public would still hold Tsai responsible for the nation opening up to ractopamine-laced US pork, even though it was Tsao who was pushed to the front line.
Wu said Tsai has other things to worry about, including the implication of her close associate, Academia Sinica President Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠), in alleged insider trading of OBI Pharma shares.
Some of the Tsai family are also OBI Pharma shareholders.
Given that Tsai’s brother was also named in the so-called Panama Papers, the president-elect should squarely face these challenges before she takes office on May 20, Wu said.
DPP spokesperson Yang Chia-liang (楊家俍) rejected Wu’s accusation that Tsai promised Washington before her election that she would lift the ban on US pork imports.
“The position of president-elect Tsai and the DPP on whether to allow imports of US pork products has been very clear, and it is too early to say anything before relevant negotiations start,” Yang said.
In response to Wu’s accusation that Tsai’s handling of US beef imports in 2006 was inappropriate, Yang quoted Executive Yuan records, which showed that when he was serving as premier in 2009, Wu cited Tsai’s decision to conditionally allow imports of US beef as an example of how the government imposed tight control over US beef imports to prevent public safety hazards.
Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin