Thursday, February 11, 2010

Presidential Office explains reasons behind foreign media snub at ECFA briefing

The Presidential Office on Tuesday commented on why foreign media had not been allowed to attend a briefing by Ma on the ECFA.

In an e-mail to the Taipei Times, Taiwan Foreign Correspondents’ Club (TFCC) president Robin Kwong (鄺彥暉) said that after receiving a complaint letter from the TFCC, the Presidential Office told him that the meeting was intended as a “gathering between the president and the local journalists’ association” and was not a press event.

“It was therefore not open to not just foreign media, but also local media who were not members of the journalists’ association [btb Association of Taiwan Journalists],” Kwong said.

As a last-minute solution, foreign media were allowed to watch the event on a video link at the Presidential Office press room.

Kwong said the Presidential Office was focusing on improving its communication on ECFA-related matters with the domestic audience after being criticized for its handling of the US beef issue in recent months.

“If the president [is] going to talk about an issue as important as [an] ECFA, then it is no longer just a social gathering,” Kwong told the Presidential Office, adding that the TFCC was “especially concerned” because Tuesday’s briefing was not just a one-off event, but a regular monthly briefing.

“The Presidential Office’s response was that they would not change the arrangements for yesterday [Tuesday], but that President Ma would hold a similar briefing with the TFCC in early April,” Kwong said.

This section of a longer article on ECFA appeared today in the Taipei Times.


Thomas said...

I wonder how many local media orgs are part of the local journalists' association. As you are a journalist, perhaps you could shed some light on the nature of those attendees.

What crossed my mind was that if the local media is widely represented in the local journalist's association, by inviting only the journalist's association, foreign journalists would be excluded all the same. The response of the Presidential Office would fail to adequately respond to the criticism of the TFCC.

If the local journalist's association has a small membership, then the response of the Presidential Office would be even more troubling because it would show that the Presidential Office is not serious about seeking dialogue over the ECFA.

Separately, Ma is adamantly opposed to the establishment of a legislative committee to monitor his cross-strait agreements.

Isn't this the president who acknowledged that he needed to do a better job communicating the benefits and drawbacks of his policies?

Tim Maddog said...

When Ma Ying-jeou says ECFA talks will be "transparent," everyone should automatically know that they will be "100% opaque."

I hope the foreign media will hammer at Ma until he bangs on the table and accidentally tells the truth for once, but I'm not holding my breath.

Tim Maddog

Thomas said...

Well, Ma's popularity is up this month. His new campaign team, for lack of a better word for it, seems to be helping him somewhat. And it seems that the DPP candidate is now behind in Taoyuan :( If the KMT does ok in that election, I fear we will be in for months of pretty pretty messages with very little substance, all designed to entrance the electorate.