Thu, Mar 25, 2010 - Page 3 News List

DPP seeking cross-party probe on impact of ECFA

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) urged lawmakers across party lines to deliver an open and independent investigative report on the impact of the proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.

Party officials said yesterday the report was essential to increase public understanding of the controversial trade pact, adding that government agencies should wait until after the report is completed before conducting further negotiations.

“Even while the government is pushing ahead with an ECFA, polls show that many people still don’t understand it,” DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said. “The government is still unable to produce a comprehensive report on its economic, sociological and political impact.”

The opposition has criticized government agencies for their “secrecy on the matter” and said that a two-page report on the agreement delivered by the government to legislators last Wednesday was insufficient.

“Any nation that engages in international trade agreements must have an independent review passed by an independent body, such as the legislature. To do otherwise would be irresponsible,” DPP Spokesman Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said.

The comments came on the heels of an opinion poll released on Monday that showed that about 67 percent of respondents were unclear about the contents of an ECFA.

“We want the legislature to create a fair and unbiased report that details [the agreement’s] impact [and] addresses public concerns,” Tsai Ing-wen said.

If passed, the report would be the second such legislative probe following the investigation into the election-eve shooting of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) in 2004.

DPP lawmakers and party officials said it would be “undemocratic” if an ECFA were passed without public approval through a referendum or legislative review.

“The trade pact should not automatically become valid after being [signed by the government]. It should come into force only after it is approved by the legislature and the public via a referendum,” Tsai Chi-chang said. “Only with full public monitoring can we ensure that an ECFA is not focused solely on benefiting a few people and selling out Taiwan’s interests.”

DPP officials said the party would create an “ECFA response team” led by DPP Legislator and Central Executive Committee member Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) to monitor progress on the agreement.

One of the first issues to be discussed by the team is a suggestion in a blog post on the Chinese-language Neo Formosa Weekly Web site by Chen Shui-bian that the DPP launch a million-strong rally against an ECFA on May 20, the second anniversary of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) inauguration.

The government aims to complete talks on an ECFA during the next series of cross-strait negotiations scheduled to take place before June.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus chief deputy secretary-­general Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏) called the DPP’s requests “unreasonable.”

“We have held public hearings and government briefings [on an ECFA] at the request of the DPP, but the DPP never participated in the meetings,” Lin told the Taipei Times.

Lin said Tsai Ing-wen should first hold a debate with the president on an ECFA and if the public still didn’t understand it, then the legislature could conduct its own research.

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