Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators may seek to amend the Nationality Law (國籍法) to establish regulations regarding the foreign permanent resident status of government officials, after the loyalty of several Cabinet members was questioned because they hold US green cards.
Dual nationality is not permissible under the Civil Servants Work Act (公務人員服務法) and Nationality Law. However, green card status or other permanent resident status in a foreign country does not constitute dual nationality and is not covered under the law.
The amendment to the Nationality Law would set up regulations on conditions and limitations on government officials’ possession of a US green card and permanent resident status in other countries, and establish a declaration system that requires civil servants to report their foreign permanent resident status, KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said yesterday.
“Amending the law could clarify the issue of green-card holding officials and their loyalty to the country, and set up a regulation for civil servants to follow,” he said.
Whether holding a foreign green card affects a civil servant’s loyalty to the nation recently sparked debate after Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊) was found to have obtained a US green card in 2005, when he was the country’s representative to Guatemala.
The issue snowballed when Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) on Friday said that Jason Yuan (袁健生), representative-designate to the US, was still waiting for approval of his green card, and that two high-level Cabinet officials possess valid green cards.
Kuan also publicized the numbers of the two green cards without releasing the names of the officials, although they are rumored to be Executive Yuan Secretary-General Hsueh Hsiang-chuan (薛香川) and Minister without Portfolio Chu Yun-peng (朱雲鵬).
Assistants to Hsueh and Chu denied the allegations.
Seeking to end the controversy surrounding the green card issue, Wu yesterday said KMT legislators would soon present an amendment proposal to the legislature.
The rank of civil servants who are allowed to obtain a green card, along with a time limit for officials to renounce the status before assuming their position, would all be addressed in the amendment, he added.
At a separate setting yesterday, former DPP chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said that the problem with having high-level government officials holding US green cards is that the nation would be beholden to the US.
The Taiwanese public isn’t comfortable about the US having personal information about Taiwan’s high-level officials from their applications for permanent resident status in the US, he added.
Hsieh said the green card issue showed that Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) KMT government was questionable in terms of its honesty and intentions toward the nation.
“Even though the US is a country friendly to Taiwan, it is another country,” Hsieh said.
Taiwan and the US nevertheless must address many problematic issues, such as the import of US beef, arms procurement, imports of US pork tainted with ractopamine, all of which affect the nation’s interests, he said.
During the presidential campaign earlier this year, then DPP presidential candidate Hsieh accused Ma of holding a valid US green card.
Ma later admitted he had obtained the card in the 1970s, and claimed the card was invalidated automatically when he applied for a US visa in the 1980s. Ma never showed any documents as evidence.
KMT Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安), who was accused of possessing a valid US passport, claimed that she lost US nationality automatically when she was sworn in as city councilor in 1994.
Hsieh slammed the KMT officials for behaving in an “overbearing manner” and claiming that their US green cards and nationality were invalid, without showing evidence.
Also see: KPRO could sue Kuan in US