Tue, May 12, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Ma casts doubt on existence of WHO memo

LOOKING AHEADThe president said cross-strait relations would regress if Taiwan were not allowed to take part in the World Health Assembly next year

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of pro-independence youth organizations tear up Chinese diplomas yesterday during a press conference to protest against the government’s plan to recognize Chinese educational credentials.

PHOTO: WANG MIN-WEI, TAIPEI TIMES

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday cast doubt on the existence of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) allegedly signed by Beijing and the WHO in 2005, challenging the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration’s claim that the document was signed to limit Taiwan’s participation in the organization.

“I’ve heard such an allegation, but there is no way for us to find out because we were not in power in 2005,” Ma said. “We don’t know whether such a document exists, nor do we want to see such a document exist.”

Ma made the remarks during an interview with the China Television Co (CTV, 中視) yesterday morning.

Emphasizing that Taiwan’s participation in the activities of UN specialized agencies was not only a political issue but also a human rights issue, Ma said Beijing would invite international pressure if it rejected the nation’s participation.

“Beijing keeps saying that it cares about the Taiwanese and that Taiwan is part of China,” Ma said. “What kind of care is it if it does not care about the medical rights of the Taiwanese?”

While some have criticized the annual application for WHA observer status, Ma said all participants in the WHA received annual invitations, whether they are considered countries, groups, WHO members or observers.

The WHO would be under a lot of pressure if it decided not to extend the invitation again next year because it was somehow upset with Taiwan, he said.

“Cross-strait relations would seriously backtrack if that was the case,” Ma said. “I don’t think mainland China would be that stupid.”

When asked what other international organization his administration would attempt to join after getting observer status at the WHA, Ma said the priority was to prove Taiwan’s worth in the WHA and that it would be “impractical” to seek accession to other organizations, such as the WHO.

“You must understand our success this year has a lot to do with our flexible, practical and low-key approach,” he said. “The key factors leading to that success are the efforts of the public and all political parties, the goodwill of China and strong support from the international community.”

Regarding the year-end elections, Ma said he would support candidates who won the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) primaries. He also urged Taitung County Commissioner Kuang Li-cheng (鄺麗貞), who lost Sunday’s primary, to respect the results of the poll.

While acknowledging Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei’s (周錫瑋) hard work, he urged Chou to aggressively promote his achievements.

Ma still remained tight-lipped about his intention to take over the chairmanship of the party, saying the public would find out next month.

On financial cooperation with China, Ma said he did not know exactly when both sides would sign the memorandums of understanding, but that it should happen soon.

Ma said the direction of the government’s economic policy was correct and that the recent boost in the stock market did not result from Chinese capital because none has been injected into the market as yet.

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