Fri, Jan 22, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Civic groups invite Ma to open debate on ECFA

SIGN OF INCOMPETENCE? Neither the president nor Premier Wu Den-yih have responded to an invitation to clear up ‘misconceptions’ on the possible trade pact

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Several pan-green civic groups yesterday challenged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and other government officials to an open debate tomorrow on the topic of a government-proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.

The government has urged the public not to oppose the planned trade deal before the details have been disclosed, “but this is ridiculous because opposing something we don’t know is our way of protesting against tyranny,” Taiwan Society director Janice Chen (陳昭姿) told a press conference yesterday.

A protest against the government’s attitude on an ECFA is scheduled to be held tomorrow at 1pm on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office. Organizers said protesters would voice their concerns in a peaceful manner.

Taiwan Association of University Professors deputy ­secretary-general Chen Yu-hsin (陳雨鑫) said he suspected the government would proceed to sign an ECFA with Beijing, with or without public consent — a repeat of what the Ma administration did when it signed a protocol with Washington on US beef imports.

“The stage has been set and the invitation has been issued. We are urging Ma not to be afraid to face public scrutiny,” Janice Chen said.

The Taiwan Society said several economic experts would also be at the event to elaborate the negative impacts an ECFA would have on Taiwan.

The invitation to Ma was sent to Presidential Office personnel. As of press time, the president had not responded. Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and the Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Mao-lin (施茂林) were also invited, but have not responded.

Chen said policy makers had the obligation to explain to the public important agreements, adding that their unwillingness to face the public was a sign of incompetence.

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