KMT bigwigs slam Tsai for extending travel restriction

Ma Ying-jeou, Wu Den-yih unable to leave Taiwan and visit China for two more years

File photo: Ma Ying-jeou and Wu Den-yih

File photo: Ma Ying-jeou and Wu Den-yih (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (CNA) -- Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and former Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) criticized President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) Friday for what they called an abuse of power, after learning their three-year travel restriction has been extended for another two years.

Both Ma and Wu from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) slammed Tsai for pushing through the law amendment in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-controlled Legislative Yuan after receiving official notification from the Presidential Office earlier the same day.

Under the new measure, the current travel ban which ends on May 20, has been extended until May 20, 2021, meaning that Ma and Wu cannot leave Taiwan for two more years.

According to Ma's office, the former president is extremely unhappy with the policy change.

After completing two terms as president and standing down in May 2016, Ma has not broken the law, the office said.

"The extension of the ban is apparently designed to target specific figures, which constitutes a serious violation of human rights and democratic values," the office quoted Ma as saying.

Wu accused the DPP on his Facebook page of playing with Taiwan's legal system as part of its efforts to cling to power.

As Wu, who is now chairman of the KMT, was slated to depart for China on June 19 to attend a forum between the KMT and the Communist Party of China, that trip is now in question.

Under the Classified National Security Information Protection, government officials who have handled classified information must seek government permission to travel overseas after their retirement, resignation, or transfer.

On May 7, the Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the law, allowing the period to be extended for up to six years.

Before the amendment, the law applied for a period of three years after the official left office, but that time could be shortened or lengthened, depending on the situation.

The passage of the amendment was criticized by the KMT as deliberately targeting Ma and Wu in the run up to the presidential election in January 2020.