The Legislative Yuan should formally lodge a protest over the WHO’s invitation to Taiwan to attend this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA), the New Power Party (NPP) caucus said as it introduced a legislative proposal to do just that, one of two motions it lodged yesterday.
NPP lawmakers also submitted a proposal to abolish the Overseas Community Affairs Council, the Veterans Affairs Council and the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission, saying the three organizations are inefficient and their roles and responsibilities overlap with other government agencies.
The WHO invitation issued last week for the annual meeting has aroused controversy in Taiwan because, unlike previous invites, it cites UN Resolution 2758 and the “one China” principle.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
“The history of Taiwan’s participation in the WHA has been an embarrassing one. In an internal memo sent in 2010, the WHA recognized Taiwan as ‘the Taiwan Province of China.’ This year’s invitation was another slap [in the face] to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) support of the ‘one China, different interpretations’ policy,” NPP Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said.
Referencing a comment by China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Vice Chairman Sun Yafu (孫亞夫) that president-elect Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inaugural address could affect Taiwan’s chances of joining the WHA, he said Beijing cannot expect to partner with Taiwan while repeatedly making threats.
China is pushing itself away from smooth cross-strait relations by belittling Taiwan and suppressing Taiwan’s presence on the world stage, he said.
Tsai’s administration has to sternly reject the “one China” principle and uphold Taiwan’s sovereignty, the lawmaker said.
The NPP motion asks the Legislative Yuan to issue a statement condemning the mention of the “one China” principle in the WHA invitation, saying it belittles Taiwan’s sovereignty and international status, and asking the WHA to withdraw memorandums issued in 2005 and 2010 that calls Taiwan a “province of China.”
Huang said the NPP thinks the three Cabinet agencies should be abolish to streamline the government and improve the nation’s financial health.
The Veterans Affairs Council has helped retired high-ranking military officers secure director positions at companies in which it holds a stake without officers being familiar with such firms’ area of business, Huang said.
Such sinecures have cost the nation millions of New Taiwan dollars, and the Control Yuan and the National Audit Office have repeated blamed the council for wasting taxpayers’ money, he said.
The council, whose budget last year was NT$124.68 billion (US$3.83 billion), is a redundant and money-wasting organization that should be scrapped and its responsibilities for retired military personnel given to the Ministry of National Defense, Huang said.
NPP Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said the Overseas Community Affairs Council’s performance has been incredibly unsatisfying and made it a major target of lawmakers’ criticism.
“A hotel operated by the council for overseas Taiwanese has only a 6.37 percent occupancy rate, and the average watching time of the audience of a TV channel run by the council is only one minute,” Lim said.
Most of the council’s duties overlap with those of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission’s duties should also be transferred to the foreign ministry and the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the NPP said.
In related news, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus said that insofar as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has decided to “follow suit” and participate in the WHA under the name of “Chinese Taipei” — which the DPP used to condemn as “selling out Taiwan” — it should stop taking actions that hurt Taiwan’s international participation just to “assuage their Taiwan independence scam ring companions.”
“It is okay to follow in our footsteps, but you should at least express your regret and apologize for how you smeared us in the past,” the KMT caucus said in a statement. “Without the ‘1992 consensus,’ Taiwan has no chance of participating [in the WHA].”
It went on to question the NPP’s motives in proposing the motion calling the legislature to protest the WHO invitation, saying the NPP either does not want Taiwan to participate in the WHA or that the party just wants to manipulate public opinion.
The 1992 consensus, a term the former MAC chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted making up in 2000, refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese government that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
Additional reporting by Alison Hsiao
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