Pan-green camp calls for explanation of ECFA impact

By Jenny W. hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Jun 19, 2009 - Page 1

The government owes the public an explanation of the adverse effects of a trade pact with China and a public consensus should be established before any deal is signed, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) said yesterday.

The appeal came as the two parties urged the public to sign a petition requesting that the government hold a referendum on the issue.

Speaking at a press conference in Taipei, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that Chinese government documents showed Beijing viewed the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with Taiwan as a preliminary step toward unification.

“So far, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has refused to come clean with the public on the negative implications of such a pact. The government has continued to dodge the issues when local industries have expressed their concerns about it,” she said.

The public perception, she said, is that the government is eager to push the deal through without giving a clear explanation.

The pact would threaten the jobs of more than 4 million people in Taiwan, she said.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has argued that an ECFA will boost Taiwan’s trade and improve the country’s ties with ASEAN nations, but the pan-green camp says Taiwan’s economic muscle and its sovereignty would be jeopardized by over-reliance on the Chinese market.

TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) cautioned against signing an ECFA with Beijing, saying it would cripple Taiwan’s traditional industries.

Huang said that based on the conversations he has had with businessmen and workers in the agriculture, bedding and shoe industries, all of them were opposed to an EFCA.

The Referendum Act (公投法) stipulates that the signatures of 0.5 percent of eligible voters — approximately 80,000 — must be collected to apply to hold a referendum.

The DPP has said it plans to collect 100,000 signatures by the end of next month in the first stage of its plan to call a referendum.

In the second stage, 5 percent of eligible voters — approximately 800,000 — must sign the petition before the Referendum Review Committee will sanction the proposed referendum.

Ma Ying-jeou has said he is opposed to a referendum on the ECFA issue because the proposed agreement would not involve political issue.