Alexa

'Green card' flap Concerns integrity

'Green card' flap Concerns integrity

The new Kuomintang government under President Ma Ying-jeou, which campaigned largely on a platform calling for greater political integrity, has managed to "immediately" disappoint Taiwan citizens by failing to ensure that all new Cabinet members or overseas ambassadors and representatives had renounced their citizenships or permanent resident status in other countries.
Up to 11 senior government officials may be involved in this flap, including National Security Council adviser Chan Man-jung who apparently still has a US permanent residency certificate or "green card."
Government Information Office Minister Vanessa Shih yesterday afternoon asserted that the possession of foreign permanent residence status by Cabinet officials was "not illegal" and claimed that, unlike the previous Democratic Progressive Party government, Premier Liu had "upheld the highest standards" and for the first time required Cabinet officials to report their status and "suggested that they abandon permanent residence status."
While no ministers or deputy ministers had been found to have "effective permanent residence in the United States," Shih acknowledged that Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission Vice Minister Hsu Chen-jung and National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Minister Tai Hsia-ling were "in the process" of relinquishing their Philippine and Canadian permanent resident status, actions that should have been completed before they took office.
Given Taiwan's sensitive diplomatic and national security situation, the mainstream consensus in society is clearly in favor of a stricter standard especially in the cases of officials or even ordinary civil servants who are involved in national security or matters of major national interest including external affairs.
Therefore, the DPP - led Executive Yuan promulgated in August 2003 a set of "Special Inspection Procedures for Civil Service Employees Involved in National Security or Major Interests" that require civil service workers, including Cabinet ministers, involved in national security, external affairs or other secret matters to report any whether they applied for or possessed citizenship or permanent residence rights in other countries. Moreover, the DPP government did not have to "investigate" Cabinet officials because they had properly dispensed of their citizenships or permanent residency status before or shortly after taking office.
What is remarkable in the current flap is the lack of sensitivity shown by Ma and Liu on the this issue after the question of Ma's own U.S. permanent residence status had become a major issue during the presidential election campaign.
Nevertheless, it has taken Liu three weeks to figure out that it should require its ministers and other senior officials to abandon such status for the sake of "social propriety" and yet the premier still fails to appreciate the nature of the issue.
For example, Liu protested yesterday that possession of permanent residency status provided needed "international perspective" and described the relinquishing of "green" or "maple" cards as a "sacrifice," while Shih incorrectly claimed that US permanent residency status involved merely "travel documents."
This matter is not a "witch hunt," as alleged by a KMT official, precisely because permanent residency status in the U.S., Canada or many other countries are a form of proto-citizenship and cannot be "automatically cancelled."
While the possession of dual citizenships or permanent residence status by ordinary citizens poses no direct harm to Taiwan, it should be obvious that it is not proper for government ministers or civil service workers to permanent residence rights given the potential for conflict of interests, especially in the field of national security, defense and external affairs and economics.
The existence of the vested interests deriving from such status, such as social security or retirement benefits, could also leave a government official or negotiator potentially vulnerable for implicit pressure or even intimidation.
The most fundamental method to resolve this "grey area" is for the Legislative Yuan to promptly approve appropriate revisions to the Nationalities Law to require that government officials relinquish both dual citizenships and permanent residency rights.
Pending such legislative action, we believe that Ma and Liu should uphold a higher standard of integrity and concern for national security by suspending any political appointees until they have completed the renunciation of other citizenships or permanent residence status and cashiering officials, apparently including Foreign Minister Francisco Ou, who have applied for and received foreign permanent residency status while holding high office.
Moreover, we believe Liu and other involved Cabinet officials should re-examine their actions and cavalier attitudes toward Taiwan and our national security that have contributed to the rise of voter dissatisfaction with Ma's governance.
In sum, the KMT government has shown during the last three weeks that they have failed to attain their advertised qualities of "competence, integrity and professionalism" and should shape up if Ma and Liu do not wish to follow the example of South Korean president Lee Myung-bak, whose approval ratings have plunged to below 30 percent after his first 100 days in office.


Updated : 2021-04-14 01:03 GMT+08:00