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Tue, Aug 01, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Ovid Tzeng faces impeachment

CAUGHT OUT The education minister will probably be hauled up by the Control Yuan for not renouncing his US citizenship while serving as a public official

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Education Ovid Tzeng is to be impeached by the Control Yuan for holding dual citizenship while serving in public office, in breach of the law.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

The Control Yuan yesterday reached an agreement to impeach Minister of Education Ovid Tzeng (曾志朗), saying he was in violation of legal regulations when he held three positions at two national universities for nearly eight years while holding dual citizenship.

The decision makes Tzeng the first educational minister in history -- and also the first Cabinet member in the newly formulated government -- to be impeached by the country's supreme watchdog body.

"The conclusion was made after careful consideration ? Nine out of 10 members of the special task force supported the impeachment decision. Tzeng breached two regulations -- Article 10 of the Nationality Law's Enforcement Statute (國籍法施行條例) and Article 20 of the Nationality Law, from August 1992 to May 2000, during which time he served as the dean of the College of Social Science at National Chung Cheng University and Deputy President and President of National Yang Ming University (YMU), all while holding dual citizenship," member Lin Shih-chi (林時機) said after the two-hour closed-door meeting.

According to Article 10 of the Nationality Law's Enforcement Statute, employees of state-run education facilities are public officials and have to give up citizenship of other countries.

The Nationality Law was subsequently revised in February of this year, stating that only those who gain approval from their supervisors can hold dual citizenship and serve as the president of a national university.

When Tzeng held the previously stated three posts, he was in violation Article 10 of the Nationality Law's Enforcement Statute.

Even after the Nationality Law was amended, the minister still transgressed Article 20 of the newly revised Nationality Law on the ground that he never applied for approval from the Ministry of Education -- his direct supervisory unit at the time, Lin said.

"In August 1998, the Examination Yuan's Ministry of Personnel released an order to all public officials, requesting them to renounce dual citizenship within a year.

Tzeng ignored the directive. In March of 1999, when Tzeng bid to become the president of YMU, he promised that he would forsake his US citizenship if elected. He was elected and started his stint in June 1999. He then notified the school authorities that he would give up his US citizenship within a year.

The deadline to carry out this promise was June 29 of this year," Lin continued. "Though Tzeng stressed that he had gone to the American Institute in Taiwan to officially give up his US citizenship on June 5, the procedures were not completed until July 14, which was too late."

The related documents will be sent to the Committee on the Discipline of Public Functionaries (CDPF, 公務員懲戒委員會) of the Judicial Yuan for further investigation, said Lin.

Member Li Shen-yi (李伸一) said the move served as a warning to public officials with dual citizenship, urging them to fully comprehend the country's legal code to prevent them being caught unawares by the law.

"The decision will not affect Tzeng's current post as the minister of education, but he is still liable for his misconduct in the past," he said.

Upon hearing the news, Tzeng said that he respected the decision made by the Control Yuan, adding that he would abide by the laws of the country. "If the impeachment is confirmed and the relating legal procedures are completed, I will do what is right according to the law."

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