Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou criticised by both opposition and political ally

Taiwan's leader criticised by pro-independence opposition and a key political support group

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 November, 2012, 3:57am

The administration of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has been taking it on the chin from both sides - coming under fire from not only opposition lawmakers, but also from its political allies - because of its handling of cross-strait affairs.

While the opposition has lashed Ma's administration for not taking a tough enough stand in expressing anger at Beijing for identifying Taiwan as part of its territory in new mainland passports, one major support group is distancing itself from the administration because it doesn't believe Ma and company are doing enough to open up cross-strait exchanges.

The pro-mainland New Party yesterday said it was removing itself from the so-called pan-blue camp - a political alliance on the island that allies the mainland-friendly ruling Kuomintang with the People First Party and the New Party - because Ma's administration had repeatedly yielded to the demands of the pro-independence camp.

"Since President Ma took office, he has not only failed to heed the voices of his supporters, but he has repeatedly made concessions to the [demands] of the opposition party," New Party chairman Yok Mu-ming said, referring to Ma's concerns over a backlash from the pro-independence camp in further opening up Taiwan to cross-strait exchanges. Yok said that, in order to pressure Ma to further open up the island to the mainland, and to strengthen the system of checks and balances of ruling authorities, the New Party was withdrawing from the pan-blue camp.

New Party secretary-general Lee Sheng-feng also said the party would rally support from various sectors and compete in the 2014 local government elections.

Local pundits and the media said that, given the vote-splitting effect, the move might affect the odds of Ma's Kuomintang winning the 2014 local elections, which are seen as a prelude to the 2016 presidential elections.

Meanwhile the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) slammed Ma's administration for not being strong enough to scold the mainland over the new passports.

"Both the Philippines and Vietnam have lodged their protests to China over the passport issue, but what has our government done?" DPP legislator Chen Ting-fei asked.

In the mainland's new 10-year passports, pictures of two popular Taiwanese tourist attractions appear, along with maps featuring a "nine-dash line" that designates a large part of the South China Sea as mainland territory.

As the nine dashes enclose the disputed Spratly Islands, which are claimed in part or wholly by the mainland, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, the inclusion has triggered protests from Hanoi and Manila.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council has called the inclusion provocative.

Yang Yi , spokesman for the mainland State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said it had long been Beijing's position that both Taiwan and the mainland belong to China. "It has nothing to do with what Taiwan has said - that it would trigger disputes and change the cross-strait status quo," he was quoted as saying by Taiwan's Central News Agency.