Sat, Dec 27, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's Mailbag

Psalmanazar II revealed

Dear Johnny,

At the end of your response to my letter of Oct. 11, you alluded to Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal by mentioning a character named Psalmanazar, who could also be called the Great Fraudulent Formosan. At the end of your response, you pose the rhetorical question: “I wonder who could be Psalmanazar II?”

Lamentably, there are more than a few people in Taiwan who deserve such an ignoble appellation, but if I had to choose one person in particular, it would be a Taiwanese public servant who has, for the last 15 years or so, been documented as possessing dual citizenship and a foreign passport, with no subsequent loss of this dual citizenship being documented.

Taiwan’s Nationality Act expressly stipulates that a government official, such as a city councilor or a legislator, cannot hold dual citizenship, but instead must renounce his/her foreign citizenship upon assuming public office in Taiwan.

According to the Act, possessing dual citizenship while serving as a government official constitutes fraud.

Moreover, collecting a public servant’s salary while violating the Act would constitute a misappropriation of funds — in other words, theft.

For such a person to attack another for possessing dual citizenship would compound one’s crime. Such behavior would mark one as a hypocrite, the kind of person whom Jesus condemns in Matthew 23:27: “You are like whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.”

And to pathetically claim one’s innocence in the face of official evidence by offering obscurantist and specious excuses would make one a liar.

To be proven a lying, thieving, hypocritical fraud would assuredly bring about an indictment and criminal probe in any nation where there is the slightest semblance of — or claim to — rule of law, would it not?

I cannot help but wonder about the ulterior motives of a government official who would surreptitiously maintain a foreign passport and dual nationality. I wonder if he or she would view dual citizenship as a sort of “life raft” or “golden parachute,” to be used in the event of war or threatened annexation by a foreign power.

Michael Scanlon

East Hartford, Connecticut

Johnny replies: I have to confess that I don’t mind a bit of fraud if it is accompanied by a bit of fun. And that’s where the original Psalmanazar excelled: rollicking stories of strange animals, people and customs, and promises of more to come.

That’s the tragedy of these political frauds. There’s nothing remotely fun about them, unless your idea of fun is lying in the burning sun with a migraine while listening to something biblical, say, the back catalog of The Jesus and Mary Chain.

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