Sun, Mar 05, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma urges government to tend to economic matters

THE ECONOMY, STUPID The KMT chairman called for an end to the NUC controversy, while Jason Hu cited the term `tongzhi' to emphasize why words' meaning matters

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, right, presides over a meeting of KMT mayors and county commissioners in Taoyuan County yesterday. He is joined by Hsinchu County Commissioner Cheng Yung-chin, who was just released on bail after being charged with corruption.

PHOTO: CNA

With controversy still raging over President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) announcement to "cease" the National Unification Council (NUC) and its guidelines, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called for a ceasefire in the war of words and urged the government to instead devote its energy to developing the nation's economy.

"The government must not keep turning a blind eye to Taiwan's economic, financial and social ills," Ma said during a meeting with local KMT chiefs in Taoyuan County yesterday.

After Chen's announcement on the NUC, which has sparked disputes at home and abroad, Ma said that the country must achieve "political stability, administrative stabilization and policy consistency" to rebuild the public's confidence.

Citing Ireland's experience of economic revival in 10 years, Ma said that Taiwan should put aside political disputes in order to focus on economic development, as Ireland has done.

At a separate event, pan-blue legislators yesterday said domestic economic issues should be the focus for politicians.

"Helping everybody make more money and carrying out stricter measures to get rid of bribery are the two most important issues that we should work on," KMT Legislator Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) said.

Tseng made the remarks in response to Chen's comments in the Japanese press saying that he is still hoping to push for a new constitution before his term expires in 2008.

Given that the governing and opposition parties have little common ground on a new constitution, it would be wiser not to discuss it at the moment, Tseng said.

People First Party Policy Center Director and Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) echoed Tseng's remarks, saying that Chen's ambition to make Taiwanese independence a reality was demonstrated in his remarks to Japanese reporters.

"I am afraid that his remarks are a sign that there will be no peace in the Taiwan Strait in the near future, at least for the coming year," Chang said.

After their meeting, Ma and local KMT chiefs issued a joint statement condemning the president for breaking his promises in a plot to promote de jure Taiwanese independence by scrapping the NUC.

The meeting also passed a proposal from Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) demanding that the president explain clearly to the public whether the NUC still exists or not.

"Due to the Presidential Office's deliberately confusing the term `abolish' and `cease to function' and causing concerns, we are asking the president to explain to the people whether the NUC still exists or not," the statement said.

Stressing that the KMT wants to maintain the status quo, the statement said Chen's move will undermine the cross-strait status quo, and fuel tensions between Taiwan and the US and in the Asia-Pacific region.

Brokeback KMT?

Meanwhile, Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) used the example of the term tongzhi (同志), which can mean either "comrade" or a gay person, in asking the president to clearly define the meaning of his words on the NUC.

"Terminology itself is a lesson. For example, Chairman Ma and I are tongzhi in the party. But the term tongzhi carries a totally different meaning in the movie Brokeback Mountain," Hu said. "Therefore the president should explain clearly the meaning of the term he used."

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang

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