Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Protesters demand referendum on proposed ECFA

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A group of protesters gathered outside the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday, requesting a public debate with MAC Chairperson Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) over the signing of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China and demanding the government hold a referendum on whether to sign an accord.

Holding placards that read “ECFA horseshit,” “Taiwan is not a part of China” and “ECFA needs a referendum, a referendum is the people’s right,” about 70 members of the Taiwan Referendum Alliance gathered outside the building where the MAC is located.

Chang Ming-yu (張銘祐), executive director of the association, said signing an ECFA would be tantamount to admitting that Taiwan was a special administrative region of China, citing the example of Hong Kong, which signed a closer economic partnership arrangement (CEPA) with China in 2003.

Chang criticized Lai for being reluctant to reveal the content of the planned ECFA and demanded that the government hold a referendum on whether to sign such an agreement.

“We would like to ask her whether it is the consensus of the Taiwanese people that we sign an agreement that will sell out Taiwan’s sovereignty and its economic interests,” Chang said. “We are also curious to know how such a major decision can be unilaterally decided upon by the Mainland Affairs Council.”

Chang said his organization wanted to challenge Lai to a public debate, saying the proposed economic accord would not solve the soaring unemployment problem and an over-reliance on China would lead the nation to its doom.

The crowd dispersed after the council invited alliance chairman Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) for talks. Chang said they planned to return to the council next week to demand disclosure of the content of the proposed agreement.

MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said it was too early to hold a debate on the issue because the council was still soliciting opinions from the pubic and government agencies.

Nor was it the best time to hold a referendum, he said, because the accord was an economic issue and until its framework was set it was premature to discuss whether its fate should be decided by a popular vote.

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