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Thu, Dec 07, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Legislators pass resolution on citizenship

NATIONALITY After a debate about a presidential adviser who is a US citizen, lawmakers agreed that public employees with dual citizenship should lose their posts

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers made a resolution yesterday that public officials holding dual citizenship should be removed from their positions -- an agreement reached after heated debate, triggered by the controversy surrounding the nationality of Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), a presidential adviser.

Hsiao, a US citizen whose father is Taiwanese and whose mother is American, has been working closely with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as his adviser and translator. Opposition lawmakers have attacked the government regarding her employment, claiming that putting a foreigner in charge of national affairs is endangering the country's security.

When Director of the Cabinet's Central Personnel Administration Chu Wu-hsien (朱武獻) was questioned by New Party Legislator Levi Ying (營志宏) on whether Hsiao, as a presidential adviser, was a public official, Chu acknowledged that Hsiao was indeed considered a civil servant.

"Then, the nature of Hsiao's work is in breach of the regulation that advisers should not be responsible for work that is highly confidential," Ying said.

KMT Legislator Kuo Su-chun (郭素春), endorsing Ying's view, said that while Hsiao had been hired as a translator, it appeared that her work was much more than translating, as she was frequently seen accompanying the president, even when Chen was not receiving guests from overseas. Kuo said officials from the Central Personnel Administration should look carefully into the case.

Chu, appearing baffled, said that he had dealt with the employment of Hsiao in accordance with official documents filed by the personnel office of the Presidential Office, adding that he did not know all the details.

Unsatisfied with Chu's answers, attending lawmakers lashed out at Chu's negligence.

Facing the displeasure of the lawmakers, Chu replied by saying that he would be more careful in the future with similar cases.

After rounds of hot arguments between DPP and opposition lawmakers, they passed a resolution that all executive organizations should thoroughly investigate the background of their employees, and that those who retain dual citizenship should be removed from their posts.

Hsiao is currently overseas, and so could not be reached. But according to a press release she issued last Wednesday, she said she would abandon her US citizenship before she gets her ROC identification card, adding that she could not yet get her ROC identification card because, according to Taiwan's legal regulations, she had to stay in Taiwan continuously for one year to qualify to apply for a Taiwanese ID card.

Due to her work, Hsiao said, she had never stayed in Taiwan for more than a year, therefore, she could not file the application.

Lawmakers yesterday also questioned the validity of a regulation made by the Examination Yuan, which states that public officials with dual citizenship are required to forsake their citizenship of the other country within one year.

The regulation, merely a resolution made by members of the Examination Yuan, is not legally binding.

Moreover, it is in violation of Article 20 of the Nationality Law (國籍法) and Article 28 of Civil Servants Employment Law (公務人員任用法), which require that public officials hold ROC citizenship. The regulation should consequently be abolished, according to KMT Legislator Liu Kuang-hua (劉光華).

Article 20 of the Nationality law states that ROC citizens cannot become public officials if they become citizens of another country and that if they already hold a public post, they are to be removed from the position. Article 28 of the Civil Servants Employment Law says that those who are not ROC citizens are not allowed to serve as a ROC public servants.

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