Critics scrutinize details of Ma's visit

By Nadia Tsao and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS , IN WASHINGTON AND TAIPEI

Sat, Mar 18, 2006 - Page 3

Some of the arrangements for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) 11-day trip to the US, especially the planned events in Washington and Boston, have given rise to a wave of criticism.

Ma is scheduled to arrive in New York tomorrow, and will travel through Boston, Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He is scheduled to return to Taipei on March 29.

During the trip, Ma will deliver several speeches on cross-strait relations, as well as Taiwan-US relations, and talk to overseas students and business representatives.

Ma is scheduled to deliver a speech entitled "A Vision for Peace and Prosperity" at Harvard University, his alma mater, on March 21.

Taiwanese student organizations have expressed criticism of this event.

The event at Harvard will be co-hosted by the New England Taiwanese Students' Association, Harvard Taiwanese Students' Association and the Harvard Taiwanese Association.

According to a Taiwanese student, event sponsors require audience members who want to ask questions during the Q&A session to put their questions in writing in advance.

The student questioned why the KMT chairman would not be fielding impromptu questions, saying and that Ma might be worried about being asked about his stance on cross-strait policy.

Ma's recent remarks about cross-strait relations have been contradictory, the student said.

In addition, a US scholar known for her astute observation of the US Congress, slammed Ma for not meeting with any US congressmen during his visit to the US.

According to the scholar, the four co-chairmen of the US Congressional Taiwan Caucus had invited Ma to visit the US, yet Ma chose to visit Washington while Congress is in recess, and has not arranged any meetings with Congress members.

In view of Congress' seemingly decreasing support for Taiwan, it is unbelievable that Ma, as the leader of Taiwan's biggest opposition party, chose to ignore the US Congress during his visit, said the scholar, who wished to remain anonymous.

During Ma's stay in Washington on March 22, he will meet the mayor, Anthony Williams.

He will also meet expatriate groups and representatives from the high-tech industry.

On March 23, Ma will address the National Press Club, as well as numerous think tanks including the AEI, the Heritage Foundation and the Brookings Institution. Ma is also scheduled to meet with editors from the Washington Post and US-Taiwan Business Council.

While there are no plans for the KMT chairman to meet with Congress members in the official schedule, it remains unknown if he will use his spare time during his two-day stay in Washington to meet with Congress members in private.