Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (???) criticized the opposition's "politicking" and accused some people of "deliberately stirring up" anti-Japanese sentiment in the debate over the government's plan to lift the ban on food imports from areas of Japan impacted by radiation contamination in 2011.
Hsu made the comment late on Sunday, after a public hearing on the issue was disrupted and the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) held a rally in Taipei opposing the government's plan earlier in the day.
On Sunday morning, protests erupted at a public hearing in New Taipei's Xindian District. The event barely got started when interruptions by members of various civic groups brought proceedings to an end.
Officials were forced to declare the meeting a "public discussion" and a formal public hearing would be held at a later date.
"At earlier public hearings, political interference was so strong that there was no room for rational discussion. This is why civic groups have since been seeking to take part in all major policy discussions," Hsu said, stressing that civic groups, experts and officials need to come together to resolve the matter peacefully.
At a press conference late on Sunday, Hsu claimed that different KMT factions were using the hearings to flex their muscles as the arty prepares to elect a new chairperson next year.
The spokesman also claimed that some people had deliberately sought to stir up anti-Japanese sentiment. He did not elaborate.
Commenting on a claim that the hearing was illegal because a public notice had not been published 14 days prior to the date of the meeting, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Ho Chi-kung (???) reiterated there is no law that stipulates a public hearing needs to be publicized in advance.
"The '14-day' discussion was first brought up by KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (???) during a budget review at the legislature," he said at a press conference. There is currently no legal requirement for a 14-day advance notice or any advance notice at all, Ho noted.
Meanwhile, Ho said information on the hearing was first made public by the health and welfare department on December 16, detailing the date and location of the venue.
According to Sheu Fuu (??), director of the Executive Yuan's food safety office, a total of 457 delegates attended the morning hearing, which was broadcast live to ensure public awareness of the hearing.
He also pointed out that after more than four hours of discussions, the parties reached a number of agreements, including a consensus on food labeling, the return of irradiated foods to their place of origin and risk assessment.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel