The war of words between the Presidential Office and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) did not end following Sunday’s debate on a proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China, with the Presidential Office yesterday urging DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to exercise caution when criticizing the president.
Presidential Office Spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said that while President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) praised Tsai’s performance during the debate, Tsai looked at the debate from “a very negative angle.”
“Chairperson Tsai should pay more attention to her demeanor as party leader,” he said.
News reports have quoted Tsai as saying that her performance and language skills were not as good as Ma’s.
The Chinese-language China Times and United Daily News said Tsai made the remarks during a closed-door meeting on Monday, in which she allegedly said she was surprised by the progress Ma had made in his ability to sneer at people.
Lo yesterday said various opinion polls conducted after the debate showed that more people better understood the ECFA and more were in favor of the proposed accord.
The reason for more support was that the trade pact was the right policy, not that Ma performed better than Tsai, Lo said.
“By the same token, Chairperson Tsai should think carefully whether their opposition makes sense,” he said.
Lo said the administration’s efforts to communicate with the public and opposition would not stop after the debate. The president met foreign correspondents yesterday and is scheduled to give an interview to CNN today to talk about an ECFA, Lo said.
Meanwhile, DPP officials said Tsai would also hold a series of press conferences with Taiwanese and international media in the coming week to explain her party’s position on an ECFA.
Discussing the decision, DPP policymaker Julian Kuo (郭正亮) said Tsai did not have enough time during Sunday’s debate to fully lay out the DPP’s concerns over an ECFA.
“We can express our views more completely during an interview,” Kuo said.
DPP spokesperson Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said that despite Sunday’s debate, opinion polls had not found a significant change in the number of Taiwanese who understand the contents of the proposed trade pact.
“President Ma used the debate as a personal political show. The government remains less than clear about an ECFA and there is still a lot of public confusion,” Lin said, adding that Tsai would continue her efforts to clarify the matter.
DPP officials in charge of media relations said the chairperson had begun accepting interviews with news outlets, starting with an interview yesterday evening on television news channel SET TV.
Tsai will also hold a press briefing with foreign media tomorrow morning at the DPP’s central party headquarters in Taipei City.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VINCENT Y. CHAO
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