Sat, Jan 23, 2010 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: ECFA will help Taiwan catch up with Asia: Ma

President Ma Ying-jeou spoke with several ‘Taipei Times’ reporters in an interview at the Presidential Office on Thursday, expounding on his government’s plan to sign an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China. He tried to allay public qualms over the proposed pact, while emphasizing that an ECFA would be a crucial lever that would allow Taiwan to sign free-trade agreements with other countries

Ma: Shen did report to the Executive Yuan. The premier gave him instructions later.

TT: But that’s because King made the call in the first place.

Ma: Yes, King made a call to Premier Wu, and Wu asked Shen to reconsider the proposal.

TT: Basically King’s one phone call prompted the EPA to change the policy.

Ma: The EPA didn’t give up on the proposal.

TT: It seems like you support King’s actions and agree that he can convey public opinion.

Ma: There’s nothing wrong with the procedure.

TT: If you agree King can address public needs, why don’t you name him premier?

Ma: It’s unnecessary to jump to this conclusion. As the party’s secretary-general, King heard about people complaining about the proposal when visiting cities and counties to promote party policies.

He should convey those opinions to the government, and he conveyed public opinion through the proper channel by telling the Executive Yuan’s secretary-general. What’s wrong with that? What mistakes did he make if there’s nothing wrong about reporting the opinions and the ­channel he used?

He made a call to Premier Wu after talking to the EPA minister, and suggested the Executive Yuan think about the proposal. The premier took King’s advice and instructed the EPA to reconsider the proposal. Although the EPA conducted a poll on the issue, sometimes poll results do not necessarily reflect public opinion. It’s not a bad thing to be more cautious. Presenting a policy without gathering enough opinions from the public would sometimes attract criticism from the people and accusations that the government is making policies behind closed doors.

King didn’t demand the EPA stop pushing for the policy. He merely told them that the policy might be too rigid.

TT: In addition to communicating with government bodies, King also took over the party secretary-general post to help the KMT secure election victories. However, the party has suffered several setbacks in recent elections. Will King or any top party officials take responsibility if the KMT is defeated in next month’s legislative by-­elections or in the special municipality elections in December?

Ma: The party has experienced so many elections, and there are responsibilities to be taken indeed. However, the factors behind victory or defeat in elections differ with the locations and environments where the elections are held.

I invited King back to enhance the functioning of the party. Former party secretary-general Chan Chun-po (詹春柏) continues to serve as the party’s vice chairman. He represents the “old stern” in the party, and hopefully the party can be more powerful by combining the force of the “old stern” and the “new branches.” So far local members agree the party is moving in the right direction, as the party is more energetic and more sensitive to public opinions.

This is an excerpt of the interview with the president conducted by staff reporters Charles Cheng, Huang Tai-lin,

Ko Shu-ling, Mo Yan-chih and Lisa Wang.

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