Fri, May 23, 2014 - Page 8 News List

AIT loses credibility over green card affair

By James Wang 王景弘

The controversy over whether President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) or “Mark Y.J. Ma” owes the US government tax, and whether he continues to have permanent US residency confirms that both the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and Ma have been reticent about the truth. The AIT tried to obfuscate the issue, upon which Ma’s stooge held up the AIT’s missive as some kind of authoritative statement.

At the government’s request, the AIT’s office in Washington produced “evidence” in the form of a vaguely worded letter. It did so to comply with the wishes of the Ma administration, but it failed to convince the public, and in so doing has damaged the institute’s good name.

If the AIT had acted in good faith, it would not have used evasive terms such as “we have previously been informed,” so that when and where it had been so informed was not revealed.

If the AIT were able to clearly quote the US Department of Justice or US Citizenship and Immigration Services informing it of when and where Ma had actually “renounced” his US permanent residency status and where this renunciation had been filed, its authoritativeness and reliability would have been above question.

The AIT is a public institution invested with the authority to issue and sign official documents between the US and Taiwan, so how can it resort to phrases such as it “has been informed” to conceal its sources the way the media does?

Referring to the allegations made in a Chinese-language Next Magazine article, the AIT letter implies that Ma Ying-jeou and Mark Ma are two different people, as if Ma had absolutely nothing to do with the elusive individual who goes by the English moniker of Mark Ma.

It then goes on to say that the AIT had previously been informed that records of “President Ma’s” renunciation of his formerly held green card already exist in US immigration files, but failed to either confirm or deny records of the status of Mark Ma.

Ma’s stooge brandished the AIT letter as if it were printed in gold, clearly enjoying the moment, accusing Next Magazine of fraudulent use of identity to gain access to an individual’s personal data.

Next Magazine had checked the green card data for Ma’s English name, Mark Ma.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Office confirmed that Ma Ying-jeou and Mark Ma were, indeed, one and the same person, in a slap in the face for the AIT.

Taiwanese learned some time ago that Ma has a complicated relationship with truth-telling. His statements to the effect that the card had “automatically expired” and that he acted to renounce his residency status are both false, for otherwise he would have been more than able to produce documents stating when and where he had taken such action and when his permanent residency status had expired.

Even if his own copy of the records had been mislaid, he could always have applied directly to US immigration authorities for a duplicate, or instructed his lawyer to do so, to clear up the issue.

Instead, he chose to abuse his power and get the AIT involved, asking it to produce evidence. The whole affair has, indeed, been scandalous.

James Wang is a media commentator.

Translated by Paul Cooper

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