Twenty of the 52 Taiwanese detained in Malaysia over alleged telecom scams returned to Taiwan last night, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
Earlier yesterday, New Power Party (NPP) Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said that a Chinese plane was in Kuala Lumpur yesterday morning to pick up 52 Taiwanese and 65 Chinese fraud suspects.
According to an Associated Press report, Malaysian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, confirmed that Chinese officials had requested that the suspects be sent to China.
The officials said that as the case was ongoing, they were unable to give further details.
Huang said he had received a petition from the suspects’ relatives late on Thursday night after China interfered in the case, dispatching a plane to take them to China, although they were already scheduled to be deported to Taiwan.
The reason for their detention was unclear, he said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said the government was doing its best to prevent the Taiwanese suspects from being sent to China.
Huang said the NPP would delay plans to raise a motion compelling Premier Simon Chang (張善政) to offer a formal report to the legislature on a similar Kenya extradition case to give the government time to respond to the new case.
The revelation follows a national uproar over Kenya’s extradition of 45 Taiwanese to China last week over suspected telecom fraud.
Huang declined to comment on the possible motivation for Beijing’s decision, but called on China to respect the rights of both nations to extradite their own citizens in criminal cases, determining guilt or innocence through their respective judicial processes.
“The fact that this new matter has emerged shows that the Kenya incident is not just an isolated event and instead reflects a wider plan, with cases popping up in different areas,” NPP Legislator and caucus convener Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said.
Executive Yuan spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said after a cross-ministry meeting at 2pm yesterday that the foreign affairs ministry had informed the Malaysian government — which had initially planned to make a final decision by 3pm — that talks are ongoing between Taiwan and China and asked for a halt to the deportation to China of the 52 Taiwanese held by Malaysian authorities.
“The 52 people were supposed to be deported to Taiwan, but then some elements of uncertainty arose,” he said.
“The Mainland Affairs Council and the Ministry of Justice have used their respective channels to communicate with [their Chinese counterparts] and call for a halt to the planned deportation [of the 52 Taiwanese to China], and the foreign ministry has spoken with the Malaysian government through Taiwanese ambassador to Malaysia James Chang (章計平),” Sun said.
“We have a list of names of the 52 Taiwanese and will conduct a background check on them. So far, we know that two of them are wanted criminals in Taiwan,” he added.
Additional reporting by CNA and AP