Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), who doubles as interim chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), turned down an offer of a meeting with Presidential Office Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) on Sunday, saying the office’s disclosure of meeting-related information to the media was a form of political manipulation.
In an attempt to push through a meeting between leaders of the ruling and opposition parties, the Presidential Office made a telephone call to Chen’s office on Sunday, expressing Tseng’s desire to meet with the acting DPP chairperson.
In response to Tseng’s invitation, DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) on Sunday quoted Chen as saying that if the meeting were aimed at a discussion on the controversial issue of US beef, the DPP had already clearly expressed its position on the use of ractopamine in meat products and that any further ractopamine-related issues would be dealt with by the party’s legislative caucus.
If the Presidential Office were to discuss other issues, the party advised it to postpone the meeting until the end of May after the election for a new DPP chairperson is held, Lin said.
Chen is serving out the remainder of former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) tenure, which ends on May 20.
Lin said that prior to Tseng’s invitation, the Presidential Office had on several occasions leaked relevant news and information to the media, adding Chen only received Tseng’s request after the issue was reported.
“We felt the DPP was being used by the Presidential Office for political manipulation,” Lin said.
Several reports suggested the Presidential Office, in the form of Tseng, had paid a visit to the DPP legislative caucus, but this was not true, Lin said.
“The Presidential Office manipulated the meeting of two party leaders by constantly releasing relevant information, which was disrespectful toward the opposition party,” Lin said. “It not only revealed [President] Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) attempts to shift public attention from the US beef issue, but it also exposed his arrogant attitude.”
Commenting on claims by the Presidential Office that “any sort of issue could be discussed” in the meeting, including US beef, Lin said the key objective for the meeting was to settle major disagreements, rather than use it as a medium to seek endorsements for the government’s policy issues.
Regarding the Ma administration’s handling of the US beef imports containing traces of ractopamine, Lin said Ma should listen to public opinion and respect expert opinions instead of rigidly clinging to his position on the issue and resorting to political manipulation.
Translated by Stacy Hsu, staff writer