Sat, Apr 09, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Nominee slammed over US green card

FRESH CONTROVERSY:DPP and KMT lawmakers said Chen Be-yue’s US permanent residency makes her entirely unsuitable as a nominee to the Council of Grand Justices

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporters

Chen Be-yue, the head of the Judicial Yuan’s Judicial Personnel Study Center, is a nominee to the Council of Grand Justices.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Lawmakers from both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday expressed disapproval of Council of Grand Justices nominee Chen Be-yue (陳碧玉) because of the US green card she once held during her stint as a Supreme Court judge.

A number of KMT lawmakers yesterday called on Chen to decline President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) nomination, while DPP urged Ma to nominate a new list altogether.

“As President Ma has not yet sent the nominations to the legislature for approval, they might as well [drop] the entire list,” said DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬), in light of the controversies surrounding Ma’s grand justice nominees.

Following the sudden change of grand justice nominee Supreme Court Judge Shao Yen-ling (邵燕玲), who declined Ma’s nomination after a media uproar over her role in a controversial child molestation ruling, Chen was the latest nominee to find herself at the center of controversy.

Insisting she made no secret of first holding US citizenship and then a US green card, Chen told a press conference on Thursday that she relinquished the US citizenship that she obtained in 1992 in October 1996, soon after the Judicial Yuan reinstated her as a judge, a position she resigned from in 1983.

Chen said she acquired a US green card in January 2008 when she served in the Supreme Court because she needed to fly to the US to help her daughter and two-year-old granddaughter. She said she renounced the permanent residence status in September the following year.

At the press conference, she showed a passport page and US immigration documents proving that she gave up the green card in September 2009, before she was -considered for the grand justice role.

The Central Personnel Administration said in a press statement that Chen had not broken any laws because the Nationality Act (國籍法) does not prohibit people who have permanent residence status in foreign countries from serving in public office and that Chen had renounced her US nationality when she served as a judge.

The Nationality Act stipulates that holders of dual citizenship must surrender their foreign citizenship before assuming public office.

However, KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) yesterday said it was a “serious flaw” that a Taiwanese Supreme Court judge was a US green card holder.

“I can’t bring myself to vote and approve her nomination,” he said.

“That Chen held dual nationality and a US green card showed that she has no faith in Taiwan, whatever her motivations,” Ting added. “[Her eligibility] to be grand justice is in question.”

KMT caucus whip Hsieh Kuo--liang (謝國樑) said it was “inappropriate to a certain extent” to confirm a grand justice nominee who once held either US nationality or a US green card.

“I have heard people talking about the matter. People have some concerns, and I am thinking about this,” KMT Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) added. “As grand justices hold the highest position in the judiciary, the legislature has to screen their eligibility with the strictest attitudes and by applying the highest standard.”

KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅), meanwhile, demanded that Judicial Yuan President Rai Hau-min (賴浩敏) resign to take responsibility for having recommended Chen and Shao.

The row surrounding Chen has also led to renewed questions about the US green card that Ma also once held, with DPP lawmakers calling the two cases “very similar.”

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