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    Posted March 23, 2014 by
    Taipei, Taiwan
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Protesters occupy Taiwan legislature

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    The Prelude to Dictatorship in Taiwan


    The Economist in 2012 called Taiwan's President Ma Ying-Jeou "the bumbler." He is not. He is revealing himself a sophisticated dictator who chaired the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to betray Taiwan's interest by autocratically passing the Service Trade Agreement (STA)treaty with China on March 17. Ma's statement in a foreign press conference this morning in response to the appeals of students who occupied Legislative Yuan, the parliament of Taiwan, made him a shame of Taiwan's history of democracy. Is it the prelude to dictatorship in Taiwan after 36 years since last dictator Chang Kai Shek?


    More than 100,000 students, teachers, professors, and protesters from civil groups have occupied Legislative Yuan for the first time in history of Taiwan. They made three appeals: 1. President Ma should made apology to the public, and the Prime Minister Jiang Yi-huah should resign from his desk. 2. The STA passed by the Chair of Internal Administration Committee, The KMT's Legislator Ching-chung Chang, is legally invalid, and the Executive Yuan, the executive branch of Taiwan, should retrieve the STA immediately. 3. The legislative Yuan should complete legislation for regulating the treaties and negotiations between China and Taiwan, and since then, stop temporarily all negotiations and leadership visits across the Trait. The address Ma made earlier this morning was the first official response from the President Office to the three appeals. And it includes lies everywhere.


    First, as the Chairperson of the KMT which violated the law of foreign treaty regulation, he remains refusing the unlawful actions of Chang who followed the KMT's command. As President he has failed to protect Taiwan's constitution and interfered independent legislative affairs.


    Second, he continued to exaggerate the huge economic benefits that the STA will bring Taiwan. It is not true. According to the Economic Impact Assessment of the STA done by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the gross benefit amounts to only 0.025 per cent, and all other costs and risks are not included in such assessment. The Ma administration never provides by-industry estimates on economic benefit, employment effect, cost, and risks.Furthermore, the extremely little estimated effect can hardly outweight the large potential risk and necessary administrative cost in the deal with China, given that the STA will affect national security, immigration, unemployment rate, health care, education, personal confidentiality, and freedom. The process of Taiwan-China STA has been lack of transparency in terms of economic impact assessment by industry and the communication to businesses in the affected industries employing more than 60% of population and yielding more than 70% of Taiwan's GDP. Given the lack of transparency of economic impacts, Ma's administration should not have negotiated the STA conveniently.

    Third, Ma reclaimed the urgency of passing the STA right now and used example of other countries' free trade agreements (FTAs). His statement is not true and very misleading, however. The primary difference is in the nature of FTA of Goods and FTA of Services. While the earlier involves similar economic impacts of dynamic market competition, the later can generate more significant complexity of labor market and issues listed in the second point. People are unclear about all the risks and costs of having the STA so far, and Ma's administration have provide little clarity. It is also very common for trading partners to take years for FTA negotiations, even for FTA of goods, not to mention the FTA of services. For example, the South Korea-China FTA negotiation has just made very little progress after the 10th round of negotiation; the Australia-China FTA negotiation is stepping into the ninth year. While other countries take FTA negotiation seriously, Ma is lying to the people that if we do not pass the STA now, other countries will doubt the determination of Taiwan to work on FTA negotiation and will freeze negotiation with Taiwan. It is just not true.


    The pubic opinions indicate the strong relationship between families of the KMT's leadership and of China's Communist Party may drive the decision. Ma, the former KMT's chair and vice chair, and many other leadership have family members doing business, if not strongly tied with State-owned companies in China. Many have argued that such agreement is a rent-seeking action to create wealth for the powerful.


    With very little economic benefits and potentially large costs and risks to Taiwanese population facing a trading partner which deployed thousands of missiles aiming at Taiwan, Ma's autocratic approach to pass the STA with China have made him an even untrusted president. Public opinions have begun speculating his schedule to ultimately merge Taiwan to China. Ma's motivation of selling Taiwan is not yet clear. Ma may wants to be Robert Schuman of Asia, to earn a Nobel Prize Laureate title, or simply to remark his name in Chinese history. No matter what the true motivation would be, he is serving his and KMT's interest by sacrificing the people on the island next to China. Taiwanese people now face the dictatorship of Ma and then autocracy in Beijing. Is there a way out?

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