Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators yesterday criticized the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) for listing information on the disadvantages of the cross-strait service trade agreement as classified and releasing only information it considers favorable to the agreement.
Although President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has repeatedly said that approving the service trade agreement will have more advantages than disadvantages for Taiwanese businesses, DPP lawmakers said the government seems to be hiding certain information that may show the agreement in a disadvantageous light.
“In 2011, before the agreement was signed, the government commissioned the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research to conduct research on the pros and cons of the agreement. The results of that research show that the agreement may lead to the loss of key technologies, stronger competition from China and loss of business ownership,” DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said during a question-and-answer session at a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
“That information has been listed as classified and has been hidden from the public,” Tuan said.
In addition, an assessment report on the pact submitted by the National Security Bureau (NSB) concluded that opening the telecommunications industry to China may threaten Taiwan’s national security, but that report has been classified, the lawmaker said.
Tuan also accused the council of hiding poll results that showed 62.9 percent of respondents supported a call by activists who occupied the Legislative Yuan from March 18 to April 12 for the agreement to be renegotiated, and only 23 percent were opposed to it.
“I could understand if you decide to hide information about something advantageous to us during negotiations for the trade pact, but why are you trying to hide from the public what is bad for us?” Tuan said.
“It is also questionable why you are only releasing poll results that are favorable to the government’s stance,” Tuan said.
DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) asked similar questions.
“I could understand that you may want to hide some information during talks on the trade pact, but it does not make sense that it is still classified now that the pact has been signed,” Lee said.
Responding to the questions, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said that the classified information was to be used for reference only within the government.
“We never intended to release the information to the public,” he said.
Wang also said that there was much more undisclosed information showing advantages of the service trade agreement than showing the disadvantages, “but since this data is also for internal reference, we have not released that information either.”
Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Cho Shih-chao (卓士昭) said that research produced by academics is only used for internal reference for decisionmaking.
“Academic research is not the only reference used; we also have to talk with business leaders before making a final decision,” the deputy minister said.
However, neither official explained why some poll numbers have been released to the public, while others were not.
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