Participants at a meeting of groups that oppose signing an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China on Monday night agreed to follow an initiative to hold a rally against the proposed trade pact.
“For the time being, we will continue to support the Taiwan Solidarity Union’s [TSU] signature drive for an ECFA referendum,” Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴), convener of the Taiwan Referendum Alliance, told the Taipei Times yesterday.
“However, we think the first stage of the TSU to submit the petition signatures will come too late, as the date [for doing so] has been set for April 25,” he said.
Although Tsay said it would be nice to see the TSU petition for a referendum passed by the Central Election Committee and for the second stage of the petition process to begin, “we do not anticipate this will happen under the current atmosphere created by [President] Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration.”
“We are prepared to convey a proposal to the Democratic Progressive Party, which is expected to hold a rally against an ECFA on May 20, the second anniversary of Ma’s inauguration,” Tsay said. “Our proposal is that the rally request the Legislative Yuan and/or Ma to respond to a resolution for an ECFA referendum in accordance with the Referendum Act [公民投票法], rather than just dismiss the rally at the end of the day.”
Tsay said his group was prepared to apply continuous pressure on the legislature and the Ma administration by holding rallies of between 5,000 and 10,000 protesters a day around the legislature.
“We believe it is our civil right to have a referendum on the ECFA. We are convinced that the Republic of China under Ma has clearly proved itself to be a Chinese government exiled in Taipei and that Ma has chosen to suppress the freedoms of Taiwanese by denying a referendum — even under current laws that make it extremely difficult to pass a referendum,” Tsay said.
On whether the DPP would approve the proposal, Tsay said that remained to be seen and that his organization understood that the DPP also had to keep electoral considerations in mind.
“They [the DPP] have tried very hard to please both the upper and lower classes of society,” Tsay said. “Signing an ECFA would amplify the economic gap between the rich and the poor. Some DPP spokesman insisted on TV that DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has yet to say that she is against an ECFA, though she does say that the matter should be decided via a referendum.”
“This will do more damage to the DPP than they think,” he said. “If the DPP fails to block an ECFA for the welfare of Taiwanese, we all feel that forming another stronghold to give Taiwanese a strong voice would be both a pragmatic and necessary alternative.”