Ma must come clean on Taiwan Strait talks

DPP's legislators urged people to join the 1025 demonstration at the square in front of Legislative Yuan on Oct. 24, 2008.

DPP's legislators urged people to join the 1025 demonstration at the square in front of Legislative Yuan on Oct. 24, 2008.

DPP chairwoman Tsai Ying-wen would like to discuss about Taiwan soveriengty with President Ma Ying-jeou in public.

DPP chairwoman Tsai Ying-wen would like to discuss about Taiwan soveriengty with President Ma Ying-jeou in public.

President Ma Ying-jeou, left, said he would listen to people's voice and would work harder in the future as he prayed in Keelung City on Oct 26, one d

President Ma Ying-jeou, left, said he would listen to people's voice and would work harder in the future as he prayed in Keelung City on Oct 26, one d

President Ma Ying-jeou (left) prayed for Taiwan people and said he would make decision on people's minds.

President Ma Ying-jeou (left) prayed for Taiwan people and said he would make decision on people's minds.

Tsai would not make response regarding the discussing with President Ma Ying-jeou on Taiwan sovereingty.

Tsai would not make response regarding the discussing with President Ma Ying-jeou on Taiwan sovereingty.

Saturday's massive demonstration organized by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and an alliance of Taiwan-centric social reform associations brought out as many as a half million Taiwan citizens to express their dissatisfaction with the incompetent governance of the restored Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) government of President Ma Ying-jeou and show their opposition to its "hollowing out" of Taiwan's sovereignty to China. Besides sending a wake-up call to Ma and his lackluster Premier Liu Chao-shiuan, the massive turnout of people of all ethnic groups, age cohorts and diverse political beliefs signified the emergence of a new united force of grassroots civil society to defend Taiwan's sovereignty and genuine economic rejuvenation for the benefit of Taiwan's 23 million people.
Moreover, the 500,000 participants warned the KMT government to safeguard Taiwan's sovereignty, dignity and national interests and to cancel the proposed visit to Taipei early next month by the People's Republic of China's chief cross-strait envoy, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yun-lin, ostensibly for talks with Taiwan's quasi-official Strait Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kun and, probably, a meeting with Ma himself.
Ma himself provided the prime catalyst for the outpouring of discontent thanks to numerous policy errors, including his recent decision to define cross-strait affairs as "area to area" instead of "state to state" relations and his announcement of an intent to sign a peace agreement with the PRC within his four year -term.
Ma seems not to realize that his victory in the March 22 presidential election did not constitute a blank check to do whatever he and his KMT government want without any consensus building or even clear explanation to his bosses, namely the 23 million Taiwan people.
Quite simply, Ma has absolutely no constitutional power to "redefine" Taiwan into an "area" instead of a democratic independent and sovereign state and has scant political legitimacy to engage in "peace talks" with the Chinese Communist Party-ruled PRC. Given these actions and statements, it should not have come as a surprise that public confidence in Ma's leadership, even in approval polls carried out by pro-KMT media, has plummeted from his 58 percent victory margin on March 22 to less than 25 percent and that hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese fear that the Ma government will sell or even give away Taiwan's sovereignty.
Ma's attempts to deflect rising opposition in society to his excessive concessions to China have been feeble at best.
Not behind our backs
For example, Ma told the state-owned Central News Agency Friday that he would meet with Chen Yunlin in his capacity as "president of the Republic of China" and pledged that his meeting with the ARATS chairman would be handled based on the principles of "reciprocity and dignity."
However, Ma refused to reveal in what capacity and with what title Chen would address him in the wake of the statement by Taiwan's democratically elected president that he would not mind if Chen called him "Mister Ma" and rumors that Chen would refer to him as "Chairman Ma" in light of the latter's former position as KMT party chairman.
Moreover, Ma failed to respond to criticism that Taiwan has received virtually no benefits in exchange for Ma's repeated concessions to Beijing and his unilateral decision to impose a "diplomatic truce" on our own diplomats. Indeed, it remains a mystery just how Taiwan will benefit from Chen Yunlin's visit and even more a mystery as to what the price tag will be, including in terms of political costs.
Indeed, Ma's touted advocacy of "straightening the curve" in direct cross-strait passenger charter flights between Taiwan and PRC airports could well inflict irreparable damage to Taiwan's sovereign status by turning all cross-strait routes into "domestic flights" within "China" by avoiding any contact with Japanese flight information regions.
Besides lacking public trust, the legitimacy of the cross-strait policy of the Ma government has also been eroded by its lack of transparency as it is strikingly evident that the important discussions on political issues, including Taiwan's status and future, have been secretly conducted behind closed doors in the KMT-CCP "forums" and other meetings between KMT and CCP representatives.
Significantly, former president Lee Teng-hui on Saturday openly called for the abolishment of the "quasi-official" SEF-ARATS channel in favor of the establishment of direct government to government talks between the Republic of China on Taiwan and the PRC and DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen and other civic society voices have demanded that Ma clearly explain his stance on Taiwan's sovereignty and publically explain the content of any and all "understandings" between the two sides.
We strongly support former president Lee's proposal, the call by KMT Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng that cross-strait negotiations be subject to legislative oversight and the demand by DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen that any cross-strait pact that impacts on public authority or sovereignty be subject to ratification by Taiwan's 23 million people through national citizen referendum.