Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Ma’s policies may hurt Taiwan: CALD

PUBLIC’S MESSAGE The Council for Asian Liberals and Democrats says voters have made it clear that they are not happy with President Ma’s pro-Beijing policies

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Council for Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) said yesterday that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) China-leaning policies could damage Taiwan’s national interests both politically and economically, and were the cause of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) recent electoral misfortunes.

“Instead of saying it’s the Democratic Progressive Party’s [DPP] victory, I’d say it’s the people’s victory,” CALD’s Taiwan committee chairman Fang Jen-fei (方仁惠) told a news conference in Taipei, referring to the DPP’s victory in the three legislative by-elections last Saturday.

“The people made their voices heard with their votes,” Fang said.

He said that besides the by-elections, voters also sent a message to the KMT with December’s local government chief elections.

“Although the KMT won more seats than the DPP [in December], the DPP was able to garner 45 percent of votes, only 2 percentage points less than the KMT’s 47 percent, making it the highest percentage of votes the DPP ever received in local elections,” Fang said.

Voters tried to tell the government that they were suspicious of Ma’s China-leaning policies and concerned that developing closer ties with China might damage Taiwan’s political interests, he said.

“Despite the talk about ‘cross-strait harmony,’ China continues to block Taiwan’s diplomatic activities,” Fang said. “Taiwanese are still worried about China’s human rights record because it continues to repress dissidents.”

Former vice premier and economist Wu Rong-i (吳榮義) said he disagrees with the government’s claim that closer ties with China would boost economic development.

Investment in this country by Taiwanese businesses has declined since 2000 because many firms chose to invest in China to cut production costs, he said. Once Taiwan opens further to China with the signing of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA), more Taiwanese businesses would move to China, which would result in a higher unemployment rate, he said.

“We won’t gain much when China cuts tariffs because most of the stuff we sell to China is half-finished products to be manufactured, because made-in-Taiwan consumer products are too pricey for the Chinese market,” he said. “An ECFA, however, will allow more low-cost Chinese products to come into the country, killing Taiwanese manufacturers.”

The outward migration of businesses would mean losses in tax revenue, “so the government may need to print more money to cover expenditures, and that would only trigger inflation,” Wu said.

“Signing an ECFA with China leads nowhere but to a dead end for Taiwan,” Wu said.

Chen Yi-shen (陳儀深), chairman of the Taiwan Association of University Professors, said the KMT would continue to lose elections if Ma does not change his mentality.

“I would say the DPP is quite hopeful for next month’s legislative by-elections. It may be as hopeful in the year-end mayoral election and even the 2012 presidential election if Ma stays on his current track,” he said.

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