People First Party (PFP) caucus whip Thomas Lee (李桐豪) yesterday urged the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government to stop what it says is a propaganda campaign surrounding its policy to allow conditional imports of US beef containing residues of the feed additive ractopamine.
The Government Information Office (GIO) on Monday produced 250,000 leaflets and fliers to explain what ractopamine is, why the government plans to ease the import ban and the benefits the policy would bring the country.
Local governments and KMT lawmakers are responsible for handing out 10,000 copies, 100,000 copies were distributed with newspapers yesterday, while the rest will be distributed in magazines.
“Is the government a sales representative for a ractopamine producer? It should not use public funds to advertise the safety of a drug when its use is still banned in Taiwan,” Lee said, adding that his party was “extremely angry” that the government had mobilized public resources to “brainwash people.”
He asked the government to present a detailed account of how much the campaign has cost the legislature.
“We urge President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to exert restraint, to avoid further irregularities and abuse of power. Now that he has shown himself incapable of ensuring the health of the public by withstanding pressure to lift the ban, he has to abide by a resolution approved by the legislature,” Lee said.
Lawmakers have approved a resolution asking the government not to lift the ban without the legislature’s consent before June, as legislators prioritize a revision to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) on the use of ractopamine in animal feed, a resolution that Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) agreed to.
Lee said his party would resort to all possible measures to boycott the government and asked the Control Yuan to hold to account the government officials responsible for the propaganda if the administration continues with the policy.
In response to the criticism, GIO Minister Philip Yang (楊永明) said the office has a responsibility to explain the government’s policies to the public.
Through the leaflets and fliers, the GIO is providing the public with information so that people can understand the importance of the issue from various points of view, Yang said.
Chen, meanwhile, reiterated yesterday that the government has no timetable for the lifting of the ban on the import of US beef containing ractopamine.
The remark came a day after Ma called a high-level meeting on the issue in which he reportedly said the US beef issue needs to be resolved as soon as possible to facilitate the resumption of Taiwan-US trade talks.
Ma has definitely not set a timetable for lifting the ban, the premier said.
Now that the government has decided on a policy direction that conditionally allows imports of beef containing ractopamine residues, communication with the public will continue to promote understanding of the policy, he added.
Chen was referring to an announcement made by the Executive Yuan on March 5 that it is leaning toward lifting the ractopamine ban based on the principles of “allowing a safe level of ractopamine in beef, separating the permits for importing beef and pork, clearly labeling beef imports and excluding imports of internal organs.”
Additional reporting by CNA
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