Thu, Jul 29, 2004 - Page 3 News List

MOFA defends its passport blunder

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) insisted yesterday that it had made only administrative mistakes in issuing a passport and legal documents to the wife of a fugitive murder suspect, even as the Control Yuan continued grilling ministry officials over questionable aspects of the issuing process.

After a swift two-day internal investigation, the ministry concluded that negligence was to blame for a passport being issued to Yeh Hsiu-chen (葉秀貞), wife of murder suspect Andrew Wang (汪傳浦), by the country's representative office in the UK and the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

According to the Control Yuan, Yeh, who had applied for a new passport in London in March, failed to provide a number of key pieces of information on her passport application form. She also provided incorrect information, investigators said.

Control Yuan member Chao Yung-yao (趙榮耀) said that investigators in 2000 had asked for the country's overseas representative offices to help locate Wang, who has been wanted since September 2000 in connection with the death of navy Captain Yin Ching-feng (尹清楓).

detailed information

Investigators issued a letter to the London office inquiring into Wang's whereabouts for the second time in July 2001 and provided the office with detailed information about Wang's family in December of last year, Chao said.

"Investigators gave the office information about Wang's wife and two children. It is incomprehensible that the London office still remained ignorant of Yeh's identity," Chao said.

Considering the condition of Yeh's passport application form, Chao said the London office should not have issued her a passport for that reason alone. "Anyone who provides an application form like that should not be issued a passport," he said.

The Control Yuan yesterday interrogated Chang Jia-hua (張家華) and Lily Hsu (徐儷文), two officials from the London office involved in issuing Yeh's passport, after having intensively questioned Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂), the nation's representative to the UK, on Tuesday.

Both Chang and Hsu were aware of the information about Wang's family that was provided by investigators, Control Yuan member Ma Yi-kung (馬以工) said.

"The documents that investigators gave the office included the names, birthdays and passport numbers of Wang's family members," he said.

Ma said that Yeh had not explained on her application form how she had lost her previous passport. "But she got a new passport the day after she had sent her in application form," Ma said.

cover-up?

Meanwhile, rejecting speculation that the ministry had attempted a cover-up of the process through which Yeh was issued a passport, Anna Kao (高安), deputy director-general of the ministry's Department of Information and Cultural Affairs, pledged that the ministry would cooperate with the investigators' probe into the case.

Kao declined to comment on assertions by the Control Yuan that the ministry had not been truthful about its handling of the case.

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