Mystery of the Time Capsule:
Is the Trade in Services Agreement a Gift?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
December 25, 2013
Summary: The trade in services agreement has been sealed in a "time capsule." That is not merely a metaphor. It is an accurate description of reality. Have we not seen more and more of Taiwan being stuffed into time capsules, unable to change with the times while the outside world moves on? The trade in services agreement has become a cryogenically frozen frog. It has become a runaway experiment. The Legislative Yuan has turned the ROC into a nation without a direction. This has been true for years.
Full text below:
Has the cross-Strait trade in services agreement been consumed by fire within the legislature? One may be relieve to hear that it has not. The agreement lives. Over the past two days, the legislature has experienced major clashes over the agreement. KMT legislator Chang Ching-chung hoped to add the agreement to the Internal Affairs Committee agenda. This would allow the case to undergo substantive review tomorrow. But Green Camp legislators threatened to block approval of the central government budget. As a result, the Blue Camp Whip stepped forward and stopped Chang Ching-chung.
Members of the public hope the cross-Strait trade in services agreement can be revived. But they must not be overly optimistic. The frog's legs may still be twitching. It may survive. But it may be crippled for life. The frog is now more dead than alive. This apparently was the intention of both ruling and opposition party legislators. No one appears concerned about its survival.
The trade in services agreement has been stalled in the legislature for over six months. The supposedly sacred principle of "interparty consultation," means substantive review must be delayed until March 10 next year, when the DPP completes its last public hearing. In other words, it cannot be passed during the current session. Yesterday Blue Camp legislator Chang Ching-chung attempted to add it to the agenda. Alas, he found himself beseiged by both ruling and opposition party legislators: The TSU threatened a "bloody struggle." The DPP warned the Blue Camp not to view the trade in services agreement as a "souvenir" for MAC Chairman Wang Yu-chi when he visits the Mainland in February of next year. Otherwise, they would set the Legislative Yuan ablaze. Wang Jin-pyng reiterated that unless the ruling and opposition parties reach an agreement, the bill will not be reviewed.
In effect, the trade in services agreement has been sealed in a Legislative Yuan "time capsule." The DPP resorts to delaying tactics in negotiations with the ruling KMT. The trade in services agreement may be a panacea or a poison. Either way it will remain in stasis until March of next year. After such a long delay, even assuming it is a panacea, it will not be able to save Taiwan. Conversely, even assuming it is a poison, it will not be able to harm Taiwan. The DPP claims that Wang Yu-chi would treat the agreement as a "souvenir." The DPP views national policy as private material assets. It even views them as "favors" one politician grants another. Such a mindset reflects the selfish nature of politics on Taiwan. It explains why the ruling and opposition parties are fighting over the trade in services agreement.
Whom does the trade in services agreement benefit the most? Beijing originally saw the cross-Strait trade in services agreement as a "concession" to Taipei, one that would benefit Taiwan. The Ma administration also stressed that the agreement was the result of Beijing's "concession." The two sides intentionally or otherwise characterized the agreement as a "gift." The Green Camp opposes anything having to do with the Mainland. Alas, spinning the agreement as a "gift" handed the Green Camp an excuse to relentlessly smear it and exaggerate its "hidden dangers." It enabled the Green Camp to inflame emotions within the service sector. As a result, the trade in services agreement became a "gift" to the opposition Green Camp parties. It gave them license to accuse the ruling party of "selling out Taiwan." What about the facts? What about all those public hearings? How many people give a damn?
Legislative Yuan inter-party consultation rules have turned the trade in services agreement into another kind of "gift." Wang Jin-pying has assumed the role of the Wise Peacemaker. The ruling and opposition parties agreed to hold sixteen public hearings. But they forget to stipulate when these public hearings must be concluded. This has enabled the DPP to drag the hearings out indefinitely. This has left the Ma administration anxiously wringing its hands. Wang Jin-pyng meanwhile, remains utterly indifferent. As he put it, "ruling and opposition party harmony above all." He firmly backed opposition DPP influence peddling. He froze the trade in services agreement. These too were "gifts" to the Green Camp from Wang Jin-pying.
Did Beijing in facdt offer a concession? Did the Ma administration fight for concessions and win them? Are the concessions a pretext for DPP obstructionism? Are they a tool for Wang Jin-pying to use in his political maneuvers? The fact is, all parties seee the trade in services agreement as a gift from heaven. What will happen when the time capsule is finally opened? The trade in services agreement will be birthed by the Legislative Yuan. Will it survive the eight months long "inter-party consultations?" Will it emerge unscathed from the bloodbath? It will not. The opposition Green Camp will resort to scorched earth tactics. The eight months of obstructionism may be filled with empty posturing. But in the end it will mean death. So why not begin the war now and get it over with? Why not use the time to debate it? Why waste eight months waiting for an inevitable massacre?
The answer is simple. These are politicians we are talking about. All they see is immediate gratification. That is all that matters. Peoples' valuable time, the nation's success or failure, the industrial sector's rise or fall mean nothing to them. The trade in services agreement most certainly was a gift. But the politicians have descended upon it like vultures. How much will be left for the people? What can one expect?
The trade in services agreement has been sealed in a "time capsule." That is not merely a metaphor. It is an accurate description of reality. Have we not seen more and more of Taiwan being stuffed into time capsules, unable to change with the times while the outside world moves on? The trade in services agreement has become a cryogenically frozen frog. It has become a runaway experiment. The Legislative Yuan has turned the ROC into a nation without a direction. This has been true for years.
2013.12.25 03:58 am