The Presidential Office yesterday retaliated against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for calling it “good for nothing” and accused DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of adopting double standards while preparing for a debate with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on a controversial trade pact with Beijing.
Presidential Office Spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) yesterday said Tsai “fired the first shot” when she demanded the Presidential Office provide information on an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) for the debate scheduled for April 25.
Tsai’s requests included a list of the “early harvest” items, the content of the planned trade pact and a series of studies used by the government to calculate the potential impact of the accord.
The Presidential Office was originally reluctant to provide any information, but Ma last week instructed government agencies such as the Mainland Affairs Council and Ministry of Economic Affairs to give “public information” to Tsai.
On Monday, Ma again asked the two agencies to produce the information before Monday next week, but he also said Tsai should provide him with some information by next Monday for fairness’ sake. He requested information on why the opposition is against the trade pact and what alternatives the opposition would suggest if the proposed accord were not signed.
Ma also insisted that officials not provide Tsai any information that would undermine cross-strait negotiations on the planned accord.
DPP spokesperson Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) then said the administration was “good for nothing” because it asked an opposition party to provide them with information.
Lo yesterday accused the DPP leader of adopting a double standard because while she demanded information from Ma, she refused to provide him with any information in return.
Lo said that since the negotiations have been under way for more than a year, the information on an ECFA in the public domain is sufficient.
The government has also made clear its policy proposal and supported it with solid information and data, he said.
A high-ranking government official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the way the DPP asked for information on the matter was like someone who “wanted to search you even though you have already stripped naked.”
Meanwhile, faced with reports that the information disclosed by the government would not include the “early harvest” list, the DPP said yesterday they hoped the government would reconsider the party’s request.
“Some of their information we do not currently have a need for, but we hope that the Ma administration will not avoid making public the information we really need [such as the list],” DPP spokesman Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said.
“We trust that the government will not back away from making some of the key information on the ECFA public,” Lin added.
In response to the government’s requests for information from the DPP, the party reiterated that it based its opposition to the trade pact on information found in a book released by Taiwan Thinktank chairman Chen Po-chih (陳博志) called the The Unspeakable Secrets About the ECFA.
In related news, director of Kaohsiung City’s Labor Bureau Chung Kung-chao (鍾孔炤) said the bureau would refuse to help the central government promote an ECFA.
During a question-and-answer session at the Kaohsiung City Council, Chung said the bureau recently received an official request from the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) asking the bureau to help with the promotion.
Chung said local government agencies in charge of labor affairs were not obliged to promote the planned agreement since the public remained widely divided on the issue.
“What’s more, the CLA also said it would make random calls to check if local agencies have fulfilled the request. This feels like the ‘White Terror’ to me. Does this mean that the CLA will slash relevant budget if we do not comply with the request?” Chung said.
Chung said that the livelihood of a minimum of 150,000 laborers in the city would be influenced if the proposed ECFA were signed, adding that in the near future the bureau would invite local businesses, academics and labor representatives to draft a memorandum in response to an ECFA.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VINCENT Y. CHAO AND FLORA WANG
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