ECFA opponents plan rally on referendum

EYES CLOSED:The DPP said that if the Ma administration continued to ignore public fears and signed the deal, people would have no choice but to take to the streets

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mon, Apr 12, 2010 - Page 3

Protesters are planning a rally next month against a proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China and to drum up support for a nationwide referendum on the controversial pact.

Speaking for a number of pro­-­independence organizations, Michelle Wang (王美琇), an official at the Taiwan Rescue Action Alliance, said that large-scale demonstrations would be “inevitable” if President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) continued to ignore demands that the pact be subject to greater scrutiny.

Government watchdog group Citizen Congress Watch said on Friday that unless the government agreed to turn over some of its information on the ongoing ECFA negotiations with China to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would head into this month’s debate on the pact “with her eyes closed.”

The Presidential Office has so far rebuffed DPP requests for more details on the “early harvest” lists proposed separately by Taiwan and China, the content to be included in the pact or government studies on the impact of an ECFA.

In an interview in ­Kaohsiung County on Saturday, former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) also criticized the closed-door negotiations between Taiwanese and Chinese negotiators in Taoyuan County late last month.

She called on the government to halt further talks on the agreement until after the debate on April 25 between the president and Tsai, after reports said the third round of talks could take place by the end of the month.

Any more negotiations held with China that did not take into consideration the concerns of the opposition party would be “without meaning,” she said.

While Wang said that a date for the planned protest had yet to be decided, it would most likely be held during the middle or end of next month.

She said she was confident there would be a substantial turnout of concerned citizens.

However, media yesterday quoted sources as saying that the protests could be held on May 20, the second anniversary of the president’s inauguration.

The government has said that it hopes to wrap up negotiations and sign the agreement before June.

Meanwhile, although the DPP has yet to say whether it would support a planned rally, DPP spokesperson Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said that rallies against an ECFA were still under consideration, as “anything is possible.”

“If Ma’s administration continues to neglect public opinion, engage in secret government policies and ... signs the agreement unilaterally, people will essentially be forced onto the streets to [voice their protest],” he said.