President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday urged Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) to restrain DPP lawmakers from obstructing the legislative process with “irrational measures” during Tuesday’s vote on a draft bill that would ease import restrictions on beef containing residues of ractopamine.
Ma, in a written statement, called on Su and the DPP to present practical solutions to the controversies surrounding US beef imports, while maintaining the nation’s reputation.
He also urged the DPP to explain its attitude and strategy toward the nation’s trade liberalization and efforts to sign free-trade agreements (FTA) with other nations, including future membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
“Opposition parties in democratic countries should do more than just opposing. They should also take responsibility for the nations’ future. This is what we expect from opposition parties,” Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said while reading Ma’s statement.
The statement was issued in response to Su’s pledge that the DPP would insist on adopting a zero-tolerance policy on US beef imports containing the livestock feed additive and that the DPP caucus would make no compromises during Tuesday’s vote.
The legislature is set to vote on an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) that would relax the ban on the import of US beef containing ractopamine.
Ma, who doubles as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, on Thursday instructed KMT lawmakers to give the amendment their full support. The KMT threatened to punish those who failed to vote for the amendment, according to party regulations.
DPP deputy whip Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said the DPP caucus reached a consensus yesterday that it would boycott the vote and prevent KMT legislators voting on the amendment.
“The DPP is on the side of the people,” Su said at the DPP caucus meeting, as he called on KMT lawmakers to follow suit and vote against the amendment.
DPP Legislator Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) said after the meeting that the DPP would ask civic groups to stage protests outside the legislature on the day of the vote.
Inside the legislature, meanwhile, the DPP would follow procedure and it could block the KMT from voting.
The DPP controls 40 seats in the 113-member legislature, compared with the KMT’s 64 seats.
Additional reporting by CNA