20130517 TAIPEI-MANILA ROW: Minister slammed over negotiations with Philippines
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TAIPEI-MANILA ROW: Minister slammed over negotiations with Philippines

By Shih Hsiu-chuan / Staff reporter

After President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration on Wednesday morning took a tough stance over the killing of 65-year-old fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成) by Philippine Coast Guard personnel, rejecting the results of negotiations with the Philippines, prompting calls from lawmakers and TV talkshow commentators for the resignation of Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂).

Lin came under fire after Ma said at a National Security Council meeting at 7am on Wednesday that Manila’s response to the four demands over the incident was “unacceptable” and that the first stage of sanctions against Manila would take effect at 12am on Wednesday, the deadline of the ultimatum given to the Philippines.

At a press conference at 1am on Wednesday, immediately after negotiations with Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Managing Director Antonio Basillio, Lin said Manila’s response was “positive,” but “clarity” was needed on some points for the government to determine its acceptability.

In response to criticism leveled by local media, netizens and some lawmakers over the ministry’s handing of the incident, ministry spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) said that the ministry has “followed instructions” from the government throughout the negotiations.

Kao said that Lin had clearly expressed at the midnight press conference that the messages delivered to Taipei by Basillio at the negotiation were still subject to review by a meeting of the council.

“We did not say that [Manila’s] response was acceptable,” Kao said.

Lin made no public appearances yesterday and gave no comments on the issue.

Late last night, Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) said that Ma has no plans to reshuffle any Cabinet personnel.

The Presidential Office places the highest priority on negotiations with the Philippines to defend the nation’s dignity and to bring justice to the fisherman and his family, Lee said.

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