TRADE PACT SIEGE: Council condemns KMT actions over service agreement

By Chris Wang and William Lowther  /  Staff reporters in Taipei and Washington

Thu, Mar 27, 2014 - Page 3

The Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) yesterday said in a press release that it was extremely concerned about and alarmed by the manner in which the cross-strait service trade agreement passed the legislative review stage.

CALD chairman Sam Rainsy expressed concern over the President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s decision to cut short a deliberation process in the Legislative Yuan on March 17 and the ensuing student movement that occupied the legislative chamber two days later, calling for Ma to hold a citizens’ constitutional conference, reject the pact and establish a monitoring mechanism for cross-strait negotiations.

The administration cracked down on protesters occupying the Executive Yuan early on Monday morning and injured dozens of people.

The council “condemns actions of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government that weaken democratic institutions and processes and undermine the voice and rights of the people,” Rainsy said.

The council added that it encouraged a peaceful resolution of the crisis and maximum restraint in defusing tensions in the protest areas.

The council said that it believes it is vital and necessary to respect procedures and inclusive deliberations before policies are enacted.

“Transparency and accountability are prerequisites of a truly democratic government, and therefore any negotiation and consultation done behind closed doors or with undue haste is a violation of democratic principles,” it said.

The council was established in 1993 as a regional organization of liberal and democratic political parties and politicians in Asia. It currently has 16 members.

Separately, former US representative Tom Tancredo called on Ma to hold a referendum to decide the future of the trade pact.

“Like many of Taiwan’s old friends, I was saddened by the ruling party’s decision to sidestep an open and honest dialogue on this incredibly polarizing question,” he said on Tuesday.

“The people of Taiwan have worked hard to free their country from the grip of martial law and one-party dictatorship. They deserve better than this,” said Tancredo, a former member of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus who is now seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Colorado.

In a statement issued in Denver, Colorado, he urged Ma to show restraint and seek a peaceful resolution to the student protests in Taipei.

He said the outcome of the services and trade agreement proposal would have a profound impact on the nation’s sovereignty.