Chances of service trade pact passing are zero: DPP
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-18 03:08 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Chances of last year’s service trade pact being approved during the new Legislative Yuan session equal zero, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party’s top lawmaker said Tuesday.

The comment by chief whip Ker Chien-ming followed a reported statement by President Ma Ying-jeou Monday that the pact should be approved in March. After Taiwan and China signed the agreement last June 21, the government reluctantly agreed that it should face a clause-by-clause review and vote by lawmakers, but protests have prevented the issue from moving forward. Critics including the DPP say the deal will lead to the demise of many small and medium enterprises and destroy jobs.

Ma can give orders as much as he wants, in the end they will amount to nothing, Ker said. The new legislative session opens on February 21. A number of hearings about the service trade accord are scheduled to come to their conclusion on March 10, which should be followed by a detailed review at the Internal Administration Committee.

The president described passage of the pact as the most important task during the next half year for the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Mainland Affairs Council and the Council of Agriculture.

Lawmakers from the ruling Kuomintang said they hoped the DPP would not succeed in blocking the issue for the fourth legislative session running. They said the public were already tired of the scenes of confrontation at the Legislature.

Some KMT lawmakers reportedly wanted to leave the Internal Administration Committee in order to avoid blame for any problems that might arise surrounding the pact’s review. Three out of seven ruling party members on the committee filed requests to join other committees, but one of them, convener Chang Ching-chung, reportedly buckled under pressure from the party leadership and decided to face the opposition’s anger over the service trade pact.

Other lawmakers denied there were signs of panic with KMT members trying to run away from the committee, saying the legislators in question had shown interests in other subjects from the start. Legislator Wu Yu-sheng said that since there were still four KMT colleagues who were determined to remain, there could be no talk of panic.

Ma and his KMT have been facing dismal opinion polls for more than a year, which have been expected to influence the November 29 local and regional elections. Elected politicians from the ruling party would find it hard to defend an unpopular trade agreement and still win re-election later on, reports said.

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