Fri, Aug 30, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Civic groups oppose trade pact debate

TEST OF STRENGTH:National Health Insurance Civilian Surveillance Alliance convener Huang Sue-ying said that the trade service pact could become a political tug-of-war

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Civic groups yesterday voiced their opposition to the planned debate between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on the service trade pact signed with China. They said the debate was “useless” and urged the government to instead allow more public participation in the review of the agreement.

“This ‘debate’ is not going to do any good, when the government is not revealing much information about the agreement,” Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英), convener of the National Health Insurance Civilian Surveillance Alliance, told a press conference in Taipei.

“I can tell you that there are only two possible results of the debate: The pro-green media outlets will say that Su has won, while pro-blue media organizations will declare Ma the winner.”

Huang said there were worries that the debate between the leaders of the two major political parties would turn the trade service pact issue into a political tug-of-war, blurring issues and reducing the space for the public to participate in a review of the agreement.

Taiwan Democracy Watch chairman Hsu Wei-chun (徐偉群) agreed.

“Debate is essentially a good thing. However, since the government is not telling us every detail about the agreement, the planned debate is nothing more than just a show,” Hsu said.

“How can the debate proceed when we do not know how deep and how far the impact of the trade service pact will be and who will be affected?” he said.

While Ma, who doubles as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, and Su represent the two major political parties, “they are not qualified to represent the public, and such a serious debate cannot be just a political show for the two parties,” Hsu said.

Cross-Strait Agreement Watch convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) said the service trade agreement could affect everyone in the country. For example, the agreement would allow Chinese banks to make up to 20 percent of the investors in a Taiwanese bank, he said.

“This means that, if Chinese banks want, they could find out about the financial circumstances of any individual or business,” Lai said.

Taiwan Labor Front secretary-general Son Yu-lian (孫友聯) said the agreement should not become effective until the government comes up with policies to handle any possible rise in the unemployment rate.

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