SEF expansion 'not needed'
By JOSEPHINE MA
A TAIWAN official in charge of mainland affairs said yesterday it was unlikely that the semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) would be given greater power when dealing with Beijing.
Kao Koong-lian, vice-chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) under the Executive Yuan, said he did not anticipate many changes in the function of the SEF.
Officials of the SEF, established by Taipei to handle cross-straits relations, have complained many times that their work is severely restrained because of a lack of 'authorisation' from the MAC - the supervising arm of the SEF.
But Mr Kao, who is in Hong Kong for a week-long visit, said that since the SEF would remain a 'service organ', there was no need to expand it.
He admitted that exchanges, particularly cultural ones, between Taiwan and the mainland had not been as smooth as expected but blamed that on 'interference' from Beijing.
Because of this, only half of mainland officials were able to visit Taiwan.
He also tried to play down fears that there would be a major shake-up of Taiwan-related institutions in Hong Kong as 1997 drew near.
On the recent completion of a review of a consultation paper on the Hong Kong-Macau Relations Bill - Taiwan's mini-constitution on Hong Kong and Macau after the handover - Mr Kao said only a few changes had been made by the MAC.
But a legislator of Taiwan's main opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Lim Lo-tsui, said yesterday the bill would become dependent on the 'ebb and flow' of relations between Taiwan and the mainland.
But Mr Lim believed there would be no major changes to the bill when it is submitted to the Legislative Yuan for approval although, he pointed out, there was a fundamental difference between the ruling Kuomintang and the DPP on the Hong Kong and Macau issue.
While the KMT wanted to treat Hong Kong and Macau after their respective handovers as neither a 'foreign or domestic area', the DPP preferred to consider the two territories as 'foreign areas', according to Mr Lim.