Tue, Apr 20, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Government’s ECFA report rejected

WASTED PAPERThe DPP complained that the information in the report was already public information and was nothing it had requested ahead of the Ma-Tsai debate

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

A 500-plus-page report provided by the government on the proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) ahead of a debate this weekend will likely end up in the recycling bin, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday, adding that it did not cover what the party had requested.

The report, compiled by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), was meant to provide information requested by the DPP about the proposed ECFA ahead of Sunday’s debate between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

Included in the report was information on the MAC’s testimonies to the legislature along with press releases, Web page printouts and government opinion polls concerning the controversial trade pact with China.

It did not include some of the demands made by the DPP that government agencies provide specific information on the content of an ECFA ahead of the debate.

“We wanted apples and they gave us guavas; this is all information that is already public and none of it is what we wanted,” DPP spokesperson Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said. “All they succeeded in doing is waste a lot of paper.”

Three officials from the 胥xecutive Yuan and MAC delivered the 4.5cm-thick document to DPP party headquarters in Taipei yesterday afternoon.

Speaking at the scene, Executive Yuan Deputy Secretary-胃eneral Chen Ching-tsai (陳慶財) said: “President Ma asked that government agencies organize their relevant information and provide them to Chairperson Tsai for reference.”

Chen protested when Tsai Chi-chang began opening the package in front of TV cameras, saying it was addressed to DPP Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) and the DPP chairperson.

He left the scene before Tsai Chi-chang said the document did not contain the information the DPP had requested. It was unclear if the government officials heard Tsai’s remarks that he would “throw the papers in the recycling bin or re-use them as scrap paper.”

The DPP requested the information earlier this month, saying the debate between Ma and Tsai Ing-wen would be lopsided if the oppositon party did not have access to the same information on the trade pact as the president.

The party requested details of the “early harvest” list, the draft texts of the agreement and studies used in calculating an ECFA’s impact on Taiwan.

Its requests have been supported by a number of political and labor organizations, including the non-profit civic watchdog group Citizen Congress Watch.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Office said it was not surprised the DPP had not provided them with the information they requested on an ECFA in the run-up to Sunday’s debate.

Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said the Presidential Office asked the Executive Yuan to send somebody to personally deliver the information to it yesterday and that Tsai Ing-wen should do the same. The public would judge who was more sincere about being transparent during the process, he said.

“It should be reciprocal,” he said. “The way they deal with the matter is like using chopsticks to stir an egg after cracking it open.”

The Presidential Office was initially reluctant to provide information to the DPP, but two weeks ago Ma instructed government agencies, including the MAC and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, to give “public information” to Tsai.

Ma claimed that since the negotiations on the proposed accord have been underway for more than a year, the information on an ECFA in the public domain is sufficient. He also insisted that officials not provide Tsai any information that would undermine cross-strait negotiations on the planned accord.

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