Tue, Mar 09, 2010 - Page 3 News List

MAC slammed for ECFA funding

‘SCANDALOUS’ Lawmakers blasted the council for providing a KMT legislator with funds to hold prize draws to attract people to attend ECFA promotional activities

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) came under fire yesterday from legislators asking the council to justify the funding of its promotion of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) that the administration seeks to sign with Beijing in the first half of the year.

Describing the funding as “scandalous,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator William Lai (賴清德) told MAC Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) that it was disgraceful for the council to fund KMT lawmakers to promote the proposed pact and hold prize draws to entice people to attend these activities.

“How is this different from vote buying?” he asked during the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee question-and-answer session yesterday morning.

His remarks invited a strong protest from Lai Shin-yuan, who said she could not agree nor accept such an accusation.

William Lai was referring to the council’s funding for KMT Legislator Lu Chia-chen (盧嘉辰) to hold activities to promote the ECFA. Lu later lashed out at his accusers, saying their criticism was politically motivated.

Lu said the government funding was “logical and natural” and that the council “only” gave him NT$300,000 for 10 events held in Sansia (三峽), Taipei County, and another NT$300,000 for 10 more in Tucheng (土城), Taipei County.

The prize draws were meant to make a political issue more interesting, he said, adding that he had instructions that the money only be used on promotional materials.

Neither the facility rental costs nor raffle prizes were subsidized, he said.

Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) also said the government funding was “ridiculous.”

As President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) doubles as KMT chairman, she said Ma should mobilize party lawmakers to defend the proposed ECFA since signing the trade deal is part of government policy.

“If I were you, I would feel embarrassed,” she told Lai Shin-yuan.

Lai Shin-yuan said the council welcomed politicians across party lines to apply for the subsidies and would be happy to provide funding if they find activities “meaningful” and conducive to cross-strait development.

KMT and independent lawmakers also cast doubt on the administration’s resolve to protect national sovereignty during negotiations over an ECFA.

KMT Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) expressed regret over the council’s inaction following a recent comment made by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) that Beijing would “yield interests” to Taiwan during negotiation of the trade pact.

“Taiwan wants to sign an ECFA for economic reasons, but for China it is clearly for political reasons,” she said. “It is clear that China is more interested in politics than the economy.”

Defining cross-strait relationship as one that is “special,” Lai Shin-yuan said the administration could not determine whether Wen was sincere about what he said until the negotiations conclude.

Huang also asked the council to ask China to remove missiles aimed at Taiwan during the ECFA negotiations. Earlier, William Lai had also asked Lai Shin-yuan to comment on speculation that China might remove missiles targeting Taiwan in the run-up to the presidential election in 2012 in a bid to help Ma win re-election.

Lai Shin-yuan acknowledged that China’s suppression of Taiwan’s international space continues despite a cross-strait detente.

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