Sat, Aug 17, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Preconditions make national conference pointless: Ma

TUG OF WILLSThe president said the opposition should come up with a list of issues to be addressed at a possible national affairs conference before they set conditions

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff writer, with CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has again turned down a proposal by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for a national affairs conference, saying that such a meeting would be pointless if it was held with preconditions.

“How can such a meeting ever take place if you are required to first accept [Tsai’s prerequisites] as a gesture of good faith? I think there is no point in holding the conference,” Ma said on Wednesday in response to questions from Taiwanese reporters covering his visit to Paraguay.

Tsai has urged Ma to immediately halt the construction of the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) as a goodwill gesture.

Ma said the opposition parties should first sort out important issues before even considering a national affairs conference, including whether the legislature would be involved in a conference held outside the system and, if so, what its role would be.

“They should also figure out which issues cannot be discussed in such a meeting and whether issues on which we reach a consensus during the conference still need to be referred to the legislature for deliberations afterwards,” Ma said.

Matters such as whether legislators should be mandated to attend the meeting, whether members of the public should be invited and whether every participant had voting rights also needed to be clarified, Ma added.

“The opposition parties have set discontinuation of the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant as a prerequisite for the meeting before they even began discussing the issues to be deliberated upon. That is not the right attitude for discussing [state-level] issues,” the president said.

Ma said he is always open to discussion of public issues, but he opposes prerequisites for such a meeting, because doing so would only spark a war of words and waste everyone’s time.

“Besides, in a mature democracy, key issues should be dealt with in the legislature and not even the president has a final say on them,” Ma said.

DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said it was Ma who had imposed prerequisites for meeting leaders of opposition parties.

“On one hand, Ma calls for meetings between leaders of the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] and opposition parties, but on the other hand, he has never ceased to support continued construction of the plant,” Lin said.

In a press release issued yesterday, Tsai’s office expressed regret and disappointment over what it said were Ma’s repeated attempts to shirk his responsibility as president and to find excuses to avoid a national affairs conference.

“Public discontent will only rise as the nation continues to sink. President Ma should be prepared and take full responsibility for this,” Tsai said in the press release.

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