Thu, Nov 20, 2014 - Page 3 News List

2014 ELECTIONS: Ma calls on DPP to support free-trade agreements

By Shih Hsiao-kuang and Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporters

With 10 days remaining before the Nov. 29 elections, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday focused on the possible impacts to the nation of a free-trade agreement (FTA) between China and South Korea.

Ma demanded the KMT mayoral and commissioner candidates from the 11 cities and counties whose industries might be affected by the impending free-trade pact to push their Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rivals to promise that they would support the passage of the cross-strait service trade agreement, the legislation of an oversight mechanism for cross-strait agreements and a draft bill governing the establishment of free economic pilot zones.

If the promises are not made, it would mean that the DPP candidates are ignoring the chance to increase job opportunities and secure pay increases for Taiwanese in their areas, Ma said.

The 11 cities and counties referenced by Ma include Greater Kaohsiung, Greater Tainan, Greater Taichung, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Changhua, Pingtung, Miaoli, Yunlin and New Taipei City.

Ma called for the DPP’s attention to the issue in an emotional tone rarely heard from him.

“Political factors outside Taiwan have already made it difficult for us [to sign FTAs]. Are we to continue this internal fight against each other? We are asking the opposing party if they are so cruel that they want to continue political infighting. Do you want Taiwan to continue to lag behind? Do you want industries in those cities and counties to suffer the impacts, lose job opportunities and have salaries stagnate? This does not show love for Taiwan; it is harmful,” he said.

Minister of Economic Affairs Woody Duh (杜紫軍) was invited to do a presentation at the KMT Central Standing Committee meeting on the impact of the China-South Korea FTA on Taiwan and the country’s response measures. Ma said that the committee had arranged the presentation 10 days before the election for a reason.

Some would think the global economic issue is the central government’s responsibility and irrelevant for local authorities, but “that is wrong,” Ma said.

What would be significantly impacted are local industries, and there are a total of 11 cities and counties, mainly those in central and southern Taiwan, that would be most affected, he said.

“You can’t expect South Korea to run slowly when you lie flat and don’t move an inch,” he said.

DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday countered that Ma was being irresponsible by blaming the opposition party for the nation’s failure to sign free-trade agreements.

“Ma should acknowledge that it’s already the seventh year of his presidency, and it’s not his first day handling the FTA issue,” Tsai said during a campaign event in Taoyuan. “He should realize that people are worried that national interests might be harmed before any benefits are received from FTAs, due to the government’s lack of transparency and communication with the public — there are even problems with our negotiator.”

Tsai added that talks on trade agreements have been stalled because of the public’s reaction to Ma’s handling and attitude in pushing for trade agreements, “and it’s irresponsible to blame everything on the opposition party.”

“The KMT is in power, it holds a majority in the legislature. They’re having problems because the people do not trust them,” Tsai added.

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