Wed, Dec 17, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Legislature wants US inquiry results

CITIZENSHIP MOFA said the US had admitted it wrongly identified one lawmaker as a US citizen, confusing him with a woman with the same name and birthdate

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The legislature decided yesterday to require the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit the US’ reply to the legislature’s nationality inquiry to all party caucuses by today.

“The legislature decided after a cross-party negotiation session [yesterday morning] that the ministry should send the reply to the legislature so that the legislature can deal with the probe results during a plenary session,” Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said.

The ministry has stayed mum on the issue since Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrew Hsia (夏立言) confirmed on Monday last week that the US had provided a report on the citizenship status of Taiwanese legislators on Dec. 5.

The legislature decided on May 23 to investigate the citizenship of all members in response to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus’ allegation that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) was a US citizen.

Lee has been beset by charges that she has dual nationality — which would be illegal and force her to abandon the seat she has held since 1998 — since Next Magazine alleged in June that she held a valid US passport.

By law, Taiwanese with dual citizenship cannot serve as government officials.

Lee has said she obtained permanent residency in the US in 1985 and citizenship in 1991 but lost her US citizenship when she became a public official in Taiwan.

Wang said last week that two lawmakers might have dual nationality, but he declined to name names, saying only that one had studied in the US. Wang, a KMT member, rebutted DPP accusations that he had refused to make the reply public to shield the KMT, vowing to deal impartially with the results.

Lee declined to comment yesterday on her colleagues’ move to make the results public, saying: “Every document should be in line with the truth.”

KMT legislators Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) and Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉), who both studied in the US, have dismissed speculation that they had US citizenship.

Meanwhile, Harry Tseng (曾厚仁), deputy director of the ministry’s Department of North American Affairs, said the US had corrected an “error” it made in identifying Kung as a US citizen.

In the initial report sent to the ministry on Dec. 5, the US reportedly said that Kung Wen-chi was a citizen. It discovered, however, that it had confused Kung, a man, with a woman in its database whose Romanized name was the same as the lawmaker’s and who had the same date of birth.

The ministry received the correction from the American Institute in Taiwan’s Washington office yesterday morning, Tseng said.

Kung said yesterday the US owed him an explanation.

“During my 21-month stay in the US, I never applied for a US green card. I don’t have any real estate or family members in the US. Therefore, the allegation that I had US citizenship was completely absurd,” he said. “It showed the US did not make a thorough effort to find out which [legislators] had US citizenship. The US should apologize.”

KMT caucus whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) also urged the ministry yesterday to find out if any official in the former DPP administration failed to give up their US citizenship within the time frame required by the Nationality Law (國籍法).

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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