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Talk of the Day -- Looming battle over free economic pilot zone bill

2014/06/11 20:37:50

The legislation of a free economic pilot zone project will be the government's top priority during an extra session of the Legislature scheduled to open Friday, Premier Jiang Yi-huan has said.

But opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen has called it a step in the wrong direction, warning it could undermine industries and deal a serious blow to the nation's overall competitiveness.

She called for fierce resistance against the bill during the extra legislative session.

The following are excerpts of some major newspapers' coverage on the looming battle between the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and DPP:

China Times:

The DPP has held meetings of legislators and heads of local governments over the past two days to forge a consensus on the bill prior to the legislative session.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu, Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te and Chiayi Magistrate Chang Hwa-kuan, along with Taichung mayor candidate Lin Chia-lung, were notably absent when Tsai was preparing to announce the party's stance at the meeting. The four major players in the party have in the past been positive about the pilot zones.

This has led to speculations that the local heads are not in tune with party policy and may not endorse it.

Former DPP Legislator Julian Kuo said the Ma administration ostensibly opposes Tsai's stance but is likely "elated on the inside" over her resistance.

This is because Tsai, who once served as Taiwan's trade negotiator, has been adamant in her opposition to the liberalization in an apparent contradiction of her past stances, which Kuo said "would probably make a lot of people in the KMT happy."

"A lot of people" here refers to the KMT's candidates running for city and county posts in November's elections.

Kaohsiung's Chen has appealed to set up a pilot zone to introduce new and high value-added industry.

Tainan's Lai has also solicited the government to include his city's Anping Harbor in the free trade economic zone project.

In an unusually harsh tone, President Ma Ying-jeou lashed out at the DPP.

No opposition party in any other democratic country would adopt "minority violence" to protest a bill and try to rationalize the move, Ma said.

Condoning physical acts to prevent a bill's passing will turn the Legislature into a "minority autocracy," the president said, adding that the DPP and Tsai should address the issue seriously.

Ma said that the DPP should face public expectations in a rational manner.

If the DPP is gearing up for a "fierce fight," how can the people expect rational dialogue? he asked. (June 11, 2014)

United Daily News:

National Development Council (NDC) Minister Kuan Chung-ming said the screening of the bill in the Legislature need not to be a battle to the death between the KMT and the opposition.

He called for a serious debate for the sake of the nation's economy, adding that if it would help facilitate the screening, he would be willing to call on Tsai to communicate directly with her.

He called for opponents to the pilot zones to lend the ears and listen to the explanation from the NDC.

He added, however, that they will never see the government's efforts if they come into it with a bias.

"If you wear sun glasses to look at something, even gold will look like asphalt," he said. (June 11, 2014)

(By Lilian Wu)