President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is willing to explain the cross-strait service trade agreement and debate the issue with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday.
KMT Culture and Communication Committee director Hsiao Hsu-tsen (蕭旭岑) said Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, would defend the agreement if a debate were held.
Hsiao said Su and the DPP were “flip-flopping” on whether Su would join such a debate.
“The DPP originally refused to debate the issue, but changed its position overnight and challenged Chairman Ma to participate in the debate. Who is afraid of letting the public learn the truth about the agreement?” he asked.
Discussion about a potential debate on the agreement has surfaced again following the latest survey released by the Chinese-language China Times yesterday, which showed that 63 percent of respondents agreed that Ma and Su should hold a debate over the recently-inked service pact.
Of those respondents who do not support the signing of the agreement, 85 percent said a debate on the agreement should be held, while 75 percent of those who support the service deal also said they wanted to see the leaders of the two parties debate the issue, according to the poll.
Hsiao said the government’s administrative branch has been explaining the contents of the agreement and its ramifications to the public, adding that Ma is willing to accept an invitation to attend a debate on the issue and provide transparent information about the pact to address public concerns.
The survey was conducted on Tuesday and had 1,303 respondents. More than 40 percent of those polled said they do not know about the agreement. Of the 57 percent who said they knew of the signing of the pact, only 27 percent said they know what it is about.
The cross-strait service trade agreement, which was signed in June in Shanghai, is a follow-up to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) which was inked in June 2010.
If ratified, the pact would open 64 of Taiwan’s service sub-sectors to Chinese investment, while China would open 80 sub-sectors to Taiwanese firms.
The Taiwanese sub-sectors include transportation, tourism and traditional Chinese medicine, while China would open up its finance, retail, electronics, publishing and travel sub-sectors.
Asked yesterday whether he was willing to participate in such a debate, Su agreed without hesitation.
“Many people are not aware of the service trade pact because of the agreement’s opaque nature. A public debate is a good thing as it helps people to understand more about an agreement that is going to affect their livelihoods,” Su said.
DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said he also recognized the importance of such a debate, adding that it would be helpful to the legislature’s screening and voting on the pact.
Additional reporting by Chris Wang