Taiwan President Ma will sign ECFA even if DPP objects

DPP spokesman Cheng says debate is best way to respond to the population's worries

President Ma Ying-jeou indicated yesterday that his Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) government would sign a proposed "economic cooperation framework agreement" with the People's Republic of China even if the opposition Democratic Progressive Party and other interests opposed the pact.
Speaking to reporters during a monthly tea session yesterday morning in the Office of the President, Ma stated that he would write a letter to DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, a ex-vice premier and a former Mainland Affairs Council chairwoman, asking for a "face to face dialogue without preconditions" in order to "understand her concerns" on ECFA and other issues.
However, Ma rejected Tsai's call for a debate on ECFA as "unnecessary," saying that "last year we had debates and the election had a result," referring to his victory in the March 22, 2009 presidential election, adding that "now we need to solve problems."
Ma added that the two leaders could discuss the question of a debate in their meeting, but also observed that it was "strange" that the leaders of the government and the main opposition party had not met even though the third meeting" between Taipei's quasi-official Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Ping-kun and Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Yunlin was about to take place.
However, the president stated that he welcomed discussion and criticism of the ECFA plan and aimed to build a social consensus.
"We are not worried that people will criticize but that people will not voice their objections," said Ma, who stated that public discussion and criticism would "help us see what the problems are."
But Ma also stressed that "we are the ruling party" and asked, "If the opposition party says there is no consensus, will we therefore not sign an agreement?"
"No, the ruling party must be responsible for governance and we hope the opposition party can actively participate," stated the president, who added that "if we do not do something because the opposition does not approve, then they will become the ruling party."?
Speaking to reporters afterward, DPP Culture and Information Department Director Cheng Wen-tsan said that Ma "simply does not understand the people's worries about ECFA."
Cheng also noted that public opinion surveys show that most citizens do not understand the content of the proposed ECFA and oppose signing such an agreement under the "one China framework."
"The Ma government needs to hold dialogue with the people and not just with the chair of the opposition party," said Cheng. "The best form for such dialogue naturally would be a public debate."