More allegations surfaced yesterday against the newly appointed representative to the WTO, Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛), over her previous dealings with matters regarding the country’s sovereignty status in the organization, leading lawmakers to call on her to face the legislature before she leaves for Geneva.
Lai took an oath of office earlier this week at the Presidential Office, but complaints that she is not qualified for the position, which emerged soon after her appointment was announced, have not abated.
Yen Ching-chang (顏慶章), the nation’s first representative to the WTO since Taiwan joined the trade body in 2002, called a press conference to “expose [Lai’s] lies” and to “place her track record under public scrutiny to determine whether she is an acceptable representative to the WTO.”
Having served in the position between 2002 and 2005, Yen first corroborated the claims against Lai made by several lawmakers, including Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), that Lai deleted or watered down all terms related to sovereignty in the Report of the Working Party on Taiwan Accession to the WTO in 2001.
Yen said the fact that Lai ceded sovereignty ground during the WTO negotiations was not discovered until July 2003, when he was told by former director-general of the WTO Supachai Panitchpakdi to check the records of negotiation process of Taiwan’s working party report.
Lai then served as a negotiator for Taiwan to enter the organization.
Panitchpakdi asked Yen to look at the terms Taiwan had agreed to in the working party report to resolve demands by China that the WTO Secretariat change the nomenclature of Taiwan containing sovereignty connotations.
According to Yen, Panitchpakdi’s predecessor, Mike Moore, requested a meeting with him in July 2002, at which point Moore told Yen that he would like to see the issue resolved without affecting Taiwan’s sovereign status before he left office in August that year and proposed a suggestion.
Yen said that the issue could have been resolved then had Moore’s suggestion been accepted by Taiwan.
“It was such a great opportunity, but I later found out that it was Lai deciding not to accept his proposal,” he said.
Yen said he realized when he saw the working party report in 2003 that Lai turned down Moore’s proposal just to cover up her actions.
In response to the allegations made by Ting, Lai on Sunday released a 3,000-character rebuttal, which Yen said was “full of lies.”
Yen said he believed that Lai was the only person involved in the matters that led to the downgrading of sovereign status of Taiwan in the WTO.
In a report presented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the request of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on Wednesday, the ministry said the decisions related to the accession of the country to the WTO were made by the government.
However, Ting said that Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) told KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) that the ministry was not involved in the decisions.
To clarify all the matters, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said that the committee will arrange a meeting for Lai for explain the allegations before she takes up her new position.