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Cabinet members told to give up green cards: premier

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan said Monday that he has made it clear to Cabinet members that they had to give up their U.S. green cards before joining the Cabinet.
Describing the requirement as the best solution at present, Liu said the Cabinet has a very clear stance on the issue and that when he was recruiting Cabinet members, he had told them to give up their green cards.
Responding to ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers' calls for him to step down if any Cabinet member is found to have kept a green card, Liu said he can give up his post, but he added that "Taiwan cannot leave itself without talent that has a global view."
Noting that today is a global era, Liu said it is necessary to have an executive team staffed by people with international experience and perspective.
Some of the Cabinet members have worked in other countries and therefore some of them will inevitably have a green card, Liu said.
Having a green card should not be seen as having done anything wrong, Liu pointed out at a ceremony celebrating the 121st anniversary of Taiwan's railway service.
He made the remarks amid a campaign initiated by opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers to question the allegiance of several officials in the KMT administration who hold, have preciously held, or were hoping to hold a U.S. green card.
A day earlier, Government Information Office Minister Vanessa Y.P. Shih said it had been confirmed that no Cabinet members have foreign citizenship and that some members have already lost their permanent residency status of other countries.
Cabinet Secretary-General Hsieh Hsiang-chuan and Council for Economic Planning and Development Chairman Chen Tain-jy previously held green cards, which expired before they took office May 20, Shih explained.
Meanwhile, Shih noted that Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen and Sports Affairs Council Minister Tai Hsia-ling had held Canadian permanent residency status.
Shen said his had expired, while Tai was already in the process of canceling hers, Shih told a press conference.
At the conference, Central Personnel Administration Minister Chen Ching-hsiu said Taiwan's Nationality Act forbids local nationals with foreign nationality from assuming public office, but does not bar public servants from holding foreign permanent residency.
Chen explained that this is because a permanent residency has nothing to do with being loyal to another nation.
Although foreign permanent residency is part of the government's screening of civil servants' loyalty, the premise is whether they enjoy another nation's benefits, Chen continued.
The screening results mainly serve as a reference for government agencies and does not involve any legal issues, Chen pointed out.
Shih nevertheless said that Liu does not wish to allow any Cabinet member to have foreign permanent residency, but she added that having such status is not illegal.
The Cabinet will decide whether it is necessary to outlaw or ban such a practice after listening to different sectors' opinions, according to Shih.
The Cabinet is still investigating whether any of its members hold permanent residency of countries other than the United States, Shih added.

Updated : 2022-01-18 01:19 GMT+08:00