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Ma's lack of honesty on Taiwan-PRC pact

Ma's lack of honesty on Taiwan-PRC pact

The responses by official spokesmen for President Ma Ying-jeou and the ruling rightist Chinese Nationalist Party to the open opposition of former president Lee Teng-hui to the controversial "Cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement" with the authoritarian People's Republic of China manifested the greatest problem in the promotion of this policy by the Ma government, namely a fundamental lack of democratic accountability or honesty.
On the eve of the signing of the pact by "semi-official" representatives of both sides in Chongqing today, the prestige of Ma's KMT government suffered a blow when 87-year old former president and ex-KMT chairman Lee Teng-hui openly participated Saturday in a protest march and rally organized in Taipei by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union opposing the ECFA as leading to a "one China market" and demanding that "the people should decide" on the pact through national citizen referendum.
Given his achievement in overseeing Taiwan's transition to democracy during his 12 years in office, Lee was long Taiwan's most prominent economist and the mentor of both Vice President Vincent Siew and Ma himself and his objections can not be lightly dismissed.
Hence, Lee's harsh public criticism of Ma as carrying out "wrong policies" that are "helping China unify Taiwan" and and his open call on Taiwan voters to "dump Ma to protect Taiwan" cannot be lightly dismissed.
The presidential office reflected its sensitivity Sunday in a statement issued by Presidential Spokesman Lo Chih-chiang billed as "responding to statements made by former president Lee Teng-hui."
Unfortunately, Lo's statement used nearly every rhetorical gimmick possible except a direct engagement and response to the concrete criticisms raised about ECFA by Lee and the Taiwan-centric opposition.
Examples include an "appeal to authority" based on endorsements for ECFA from by various foreign and local business organizations and prominent international economists or management consultants which Lo said showed that "all expressed that signing ECFA will be good for Taiwan and is the road Taiwan must follow."
However, the weight of this appeal is weakened by the opposition of prominent Taiwan economists, such as Lee himself, and the expressions of deep concern over the impacts on Taiwan's economy, sovereignty and democracy issued by prominent domestic and foreign academics and economists who are familiar with Taiwan, such as the two dozen foreign-based Taiwan scholars (including several prominent economists) who published on May 23 an open letter to Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng.
Moreover, the presidential statement openly distorted an opinion poll of 1,093 Taiwan adults issued June 18 by the DPP Public Survey Center. The survey showed that 21.1 percent agreed that Taiwan should "grasp the opportunity to sign ECFA as soon as possible to avoid marginalization," 45.6 percent agreed that "there is no reason to rush to sign the ECFA and that we should wait for comprehensive complementary mechanisms," and 23.3 percent said Taiwan "fundamentally should not sign ECFA to avoid economic disaster."
Twists and turns
The DPP poll clearly showed that nearly 80 percent of those polled did not approve of " Ma government's rush to sign" this ECFA, but Lo claimed that the poll showed that it showed that "most people no longer unconditionally oppose ECFA" and thus engaged in sleight of hand to cover up the fact of continued majority opposition to Ma's "actually - existing" ECFA strategy.
In addition, it was deeply shocking that a presidential spokesman could claim that DPP criticism of such policies and Ma's own statements and actions constitute "stirring up of hatred and manipulating ethnicity" when the only side to openly "manipulate ethnicity" in the ECFA controversy has been none other than the Ma government itself.
Surely, not all readers have forgotten the scandal over the issuance by the Ministry of Economic Affairs of a cartoon leaflet featuring "Brother Yi" and "Sister Fa" last July that was withdrawn after intense social criticism for its blatant use of use of ethnic and social class-based stereotyping of opponents of ECFA.
On the other hand, neither DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen or any other senior DPP official has made any "ethnic" based criticisms with regard to the KMT's ECFA policy.
Finally, after acknowledging the PRC's political designs against Taiwan, the presidential spokesman said ECFA represented the Ma government's strategy of "striving for victory in dangerous circumstances" and is "the correct method for defending the survival of the country and the dignity of the people."
It is questionable whether such a bold, if not foolhardy, gamble will "defend the survival of the country" or further endanger Taiwan's survival as a prosperous and democratic state.
But the key point which the Ma government has failed to honestly face is the democratic necessity to obtain the consent of the citizenry for such a gamble.
Instead of inviting opposition and civil society representatives to form a "bottom-up consensus' or to agree to hold a national citizen referendum to ratify ECFA, Ma has chosen to build consensus only with the PRC's ruling Chinese Communist Party. This is why Lee decried Ma as being "unfit to be president of Taiwan."


Updated : 2021-05-12 03:11 GMT+08:00