Opposition slams timing of service pact hearings

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Sep 26, 2013 - Page 3

Opposition parties yesterday blasted the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) decision to hold eight public hearings on the cross-strait service trade agreement in three days, saying it was a strategy to push the agreement through the Legislative Yuan as soon as possible.

Chang Ching-chung (張慶忠), one of the conveners of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee (IAC), has arranged eight of the 16 hearings required by an earlier IAC resolution on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday next week, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) told a news conference yesterday.

“With less than one hour arranged for each hearing, which cover local service sub-sectors expected to be affected by the agreement, it seems that the KMT is trying to rush the process rather than listening to business owners’ voices,” Hsu said.

Four public hearings have already been held in the legislature amid public fears about possible negative impacts from the agreement, which was signed in June and opened 64 sub-sectors in the service industry to Chinese investment, as an IAC resolution required the legislature to hold 16 hearings to promote communication between the government and local businesses before the pact is screened and voted upon clause-by-clause in the legislature.

“President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) signed the agreement without prior consultation with Taiwanese and is now trying to force his way through the public hearings. It is unacceptable,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday in Changhua County.

In a press release issued on Tuesday night, the DPP’s Department of China Affairs Director Honigmann Hong (洪財隆) urged the KMT legislative caucus to uphold democratic principles and re-schedule the hearings.

KMT caucus chief secretary Lin Te-fu (林德福) said the convener’s rights to arrange meetings should be respected, adding that the opposition was only just trying to delay the screening process.