Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - Page 3 News List

KMT lawmakers urge aggressive action on ECFA

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday urged the government to play a more aggressive role in pursuing an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.

KMT caucus secretary-general Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) told a press conference that it was necessary for Taiwan to sign an ECFA with China to boost Taiwan's economy.

“The opportunity is fleeting,” Lu said. “We hope the government will enhance communication [with legislators across party lines].”

Lu made the remarks after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) told legislators over a dinner on Monday that the signing of the ECFA had been stalled for more than a month because of the flooding caused by Typhoon Morakot.

Ma was quoted by unidentified KMT legislators as saying that he had instructed the Executive Yuan to put a minister without portfolio in charge of pushing the proposal, which he hoped would be signed by the end of this year or early next year.

Lu said Ma and Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) had spent a lot of time discussing the government’s plan to sign an ECFA with KMT legislators on the Foreign and National Defense Committee and the Economics Committee on Monday night.

“However, government officials have been unable to clearly explain the details of an ECFA, not to mention help the public understand it,” Lu said. “This is an economic issue, but it has been interpreted from a political perspective, which has caused much trouble.”

Caucus chief deputy secretary-general Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said while the caucus understood that any government policy has its pros and cons, “we should make sure [that an ECFA] would bring more advantages than disadvantages.”

Despite Ma's remarks, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) said signing an ECFA would not on the agenda of the next round of cross-strait talks to be held later this year.

Kao told the Central News Agency on Monday that both sides had been weighed down by domestic developments that had affected preparations for the fourth meeting between SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and his counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林).

These included the worst flooding in Taiwan in 50 years earlier last month, the Dalai Lama’s visit to Taiwan this month and the Cabinet reshuffle last Thursday, he said.

Meanwhile, China is preparing for the fourth plenary session of the 17th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, which began yesterday and ends on Friday, and for celebrations to mark its 60th anniversary next month.

All of this has affected preparations for the Chiang-Chen meeting, Koo said.

While Ma said that signing an ECFA with China would prevent Taiwan from being marginalized amid regional economic development, the Democratic Progressive Party has repeatedly voiced opposition to the proposal, citing fears that it would compromise Taiwan's sovereignty and job market.

Vice Premier Eric Chu (朱立倫) said Wu would attempt to allay misgivings about the ECFA when he addresses the new session of the legislature on Friday.

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