Tsai pans Ma over ECFA

PROTECT THE NATION:DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen said that President Ma Ying-jeou's mind was constantly lingering on thoughts of a motherland in a distant place

By Rich Chang and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Sun, Apr 12, 2009 - Page 1

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would hear “the people’s angry shouts” on May 17 if he insists on signing an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.

Tsai made the remark in a keynote speech she delivered at the Taiwan Citizen Conference on National Affairs convened by the DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

Tsai said it was a pity that Ma did not attend yesterday’s meeting, which focused on various issues related to the signing of an ECFA, and that he had missed a chance to listen to the voice of the people and address concerns about inking an ECFA with China.

“I will not meet Ma if a real debate on signing an ECFA and other national issues is not possible ... If Ma continues to ignore the voice of the people and continues to push the ECFA, people will be left with only one choice — to shout angrily on May 17 so Ma can hear their voices,” she said, referring to a demonstration scheduled to be held in Taipei by the DPP, pro-localization groups and groups representing traditional industries.

Noting that last week Ma led government officials in paying tribute to the Yen Emperor, Tsai said: “If the president’s mind is always lingering on thoughts of a motherland in a distant place, people have to worry if the president would protect the nation or whether Taiwan’s best interests will be put in jeopardy?”

Tsai said she would like to ask Ma three questions.

“Are Taiwan and China two countries, or two areas?” she asked.

Tsai said that Ma has not responded to Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) remarks on Dec. 31 on the 30th anniversary of Beijing’s “Open letter to Taiwanese compatriots,” in which Hu said that Taiwan and China could discuss anything as long as the “one China” principle was recognized by both sides.

“Does that mean Ma has acquiesced to the ‘one China’ principle?” she asked.

“The third question,” Tsai said. “How can Ma engage with China and the international community without hurting the sovereignty of Taiwan in view of Ma’s insistence that the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ exists, a consensus that Beijing does not recognize?”

Tsai accused the Ma administration of failing to implement effective measures to address the recession. Instead, it relies on China as a way to resolve economic difficulties, all the while keeping quiet about the price to be paid as a result of Taiwan’s heavy dependence on China, she said.

Ma should apologize for the poor performance of his government and reshuffle the Cabinet, Tsai said.

At a separate setting yesterday, the Presidential Office expressed regret over Tsai’s rejection of Ma’s invitation to meet.

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said Ma invited Tsai because he hoped both the ruling and opposition parties could put aside their differences and work for the well-being of the people.

“There are no differences that cannot be resolved. There is no political party that cannot cooperate,” Wang said. “If both the ruling and opposition parties could start a dialogue and develop a relationship that is both competitive and cooperative, it would herald a new future for Taiwan’s democracy.”

Presidential Office Secretary-General Chan Chun-po (詹春柏) delivered an invitation to DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) to give it to Tsai at Ma’s request on Thursday.

DPP headquarters turned down the invitation to meet at a memorial service marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), saying that Ma has turned the memorial service into a promotional event for himself and that it would be inappropriate for Tsai to meet Ma for discussions in that context.

The DPP, meanwhile, extended an invitation to Ma to attend yesterday’s State Affairs Forum.

While the DPP made public the content of Tsai’s letter before Ma received it on Friday night, Wang yesterday declined to say whether such a move was disrespectful.

However, he said that they had not revealed the contents of Ma’s letter in advance out of respect.

Talks about a meeting between Ma and Tsai have been in the air for a while, but Ma and Tsai have not been able to agree on an agenda or the format of any discussion. While Tsai prefers an open debate, she told Ma in her letter that their meeting would be pointless if Ma just wanted to exchange greetings.

Wang yesterday said it was “unfair” and “incorrect” to make such an assumption. Ma would be more than happy to meet Tsai if she thought the time was right, Wang said.

Wang said Ma told Tsai in the invitation that he was sincere about the meeting and that he was open to the time and issue and that the meeting would be open to the public.

Responding to Tsai’s criticism of Ma’s worship of the Yen Emperor, Wang said it was common practice in the central government and that Ma attended this year to show his sincerity.