Fri, Apr 09, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Tempers flare in run-up to debate

By Ko Shu-ling and Vincent Y. Chao  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Tension crackled between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Presidential Office yesterday as the DPP accused the Presidential Office of playing cover-up and refusing to divulge key information on the government’s proposed cross-strait trade pact, while the Presidential Office criticized the DPP for making “unprecedented” requests.

During a meeting on Wednesday, DPP representatives handed Presidential Office Spokesperson Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) a note with three requests the party said it needed to “fight a fair debate” on an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA). The requests included an inventory of the “early harvest” items, the content of the planned trade pact and a series of studies used by the government to calculate the impact of the accord.

While Lo said at a joint press conference after the meeting that he would take the requests back to the Presidential Office, a press statement Lo issued late on Wednesday night accused the DPP of “petty maneuvering.”

The statement drew fire from DPP Spokesperson Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌), who yesterday said it was “unprofessional,” adding that it was further proof that the government wanted to keep both the opposition party and the Taiwanese public in the dark over an ECFA.

“What is there to hide that the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] and China both know about, but the government has to hide from the opposition and the Taiwanese public,” he said.

The Presidential Office responded yesterday morning by demanding that DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) answer three questions.

Lo said the Presidential Office wanted to know how many items Tsai Ing-wen thought should be included in the “early harvest” list. The “early harvest” items refer to goods and services that would be subject to immediate tariff concessions or exemptions. Some media outlets have alleged there were 500 items on Taiwan’s list and 700 items on China’s side.

Lo said the Presidential Office also wanted to know what alternative Tsai Ing-wen would propose to an ECFA and that she should make public her reasons for deciding to oppose the pact.

Lo said that as a responsible opposition leader, Tsai Ing-wen must answer these questions, adding that if the DPP were confident about public scrutiny, “it should not be this afraid.”

In a response late yesterday, Tsai Chi-chang said the Presidential Office must provide its information first, “based on which, we’ll then make our assessment.”

He said Tsai Ing-wen would also clearly present an alternative to an ECFA during her debate with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on April 25.

Regarding Lo’s last question, Tsai Chi-chang said: “The Unspeakable Secrets About the ECFA by Taiwan Thinktank chairman Chen Po-chih (陳博志) was the information referenced by the DPP. We welcome the Presidential Office to purchase a copy.”

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