Sun, Jun 15, 2008 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Tsai warns of hasty decisions in cross-strait affairs

Negotiators from both sides of the Strait signed agreements on Friday to launch weekend charter flights and allow Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) described the meeting as satisfactory and said it was happy to see President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) election promise become a reality. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), however, warned that the hasty decision posed a threat to national security and interests. ‘Taipei Times' reporter Ko Shu-ling talked to DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Friday about her views and observations on the cross-strait talks and the Ma administration

Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen gestures during an interview with the Taipei Times on Friday.

PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FONG, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei Times: Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) met Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in Beijing on Friday afternoon after a deal was struck on cross-strait weekend charter flights and expanding Chinese tourism in Taiwan. Do you think the agreements should be approved by the legislature?

Tsai Ing-wen: Like a treaty signed with a foreign country, an executive agreement signed with China requires the approval of the legislature.

The problem with the agreements is the negotiation process was not transparent. We do not know who goes where to talk about what, when they go and with whom they talked. So we are worried.

It is a very sensitive issue and concerns Taiwan’s interests, but the negotiation process was not transparent and there is no due process for the legislature to make inquiries.

TT: The DPP has lodged many protests in that regard. Does the DPP have any concrete demands for the administration so they can pressure Beijing for negotiations on other issues such as membership in the IMF or World Bank?

Tsai: Cross-strait issues concern the public interest, so the KMT should sit down with the opposition party. We can talk about what issues can be placed on the table and when would be the best time to conduct the negotiations. It is important that the ruling and opposition parties reach a consensus.

It took the DPP administration about eight years to form a social consensus on charter flight services and Chinese tourism. The KMT administration must do the same if it wishes to put a new issue on the agenda.

So, it’s not a question of whether the DPP should make any suggestions to the administration but whether the administration is willing to conduct local negotiations.

TT: The DPP administration mapped out several cross-strait policies during its eight years in power. However, the public seemed to think otherwise. What’s your take on that?

Tsai: It isn’t right to say that there was no progress under the DPP administration. The DPP laid the groundwork for charter flight services, “small three links” and Chinese tourism.

I don’t think the KMT could be so bold as to do what we did if it had won the presidential election in 2000. We opened the “small three links” and charter flights. We substantially amended the Act Governing Relations between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) to accommodate further liberalization in cross-strait relations.

Some may be unhappy with the progress we made, but in a democracy, the government cannot relax cross-strait policy simply because it wants to. It must take the feelings of the people into consideration. I hope the KMT government has learned its lesson from the public displeasure over its decision to increase fuel prices.

TT: You just mentioned that taking public feeling into consideration is important. The public is unhappy with the way the Cabinet handled commodities and fuel price hikes. Does the DPP have any plan to take the issue to the streets?

Tsai: Some people have told me that the government seems to be against the people. So what can the DPP do? Two things. First, we can remind the administration about things that they neglect, and we can tell them that we care about what the public think. Second, we can listen to the public and help them have their voices heard.

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