Activists and legislators yesterday panned President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) call to speed up the public hearings being held on the cross-strait service trade agreement, saying that the government and the public should take their time examining the potential impact the pact may have on the nation.
Although Ma blamed the legislature for stalling the agreement’s passage by being slow in organizing the hearings, the slow pace of progress is due to government agencies’ reluctance to provide the information that needs to be discussed at the hearings, the Democratic Front Against Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement said in a press release.
At a public hearing last month — the ninth of 16 scheduled hearings — the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Council for Economic Planning and Development refused to provide an estimate of the number of jobs each sector that would be opened up to China may lose after the pact takes effect, alliance spokesperson Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) said.
Lai said the hearings are designed to gather the opinions of all sectors of society and should follow standard procedures because the service trade agreement affects the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Taiwanese workers.
Civic groups do not want things to be rushed by doing what Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠) did and organize eight hearings in four days, he added.
The transparency of the service trade agreement, which was signed in June, and the yet to be inked cross-strait trade in goods agreement, which recently completed its seventh round of bilateral negotiations, remain highly questionable, Lai said.
For example, the government has yet to provide the public with a comparison table between the UN Provisional Central Product Classification (聯合國中央產品分類暫行版), the Standard Industrial Classification of the Republic of China (中華民國行業分類標準) and the Company Operation Item Code Table (公司行號營業項目代碼表) that people need to check whether the sector they work in is to be opened to Chinese investors under the pact, he added.
Furthermore, the public has not been informed of the most recent round of negotiations over the trade in goods agreement, Lai said.