Wed, Jan 05, 2005 - Page 3 News List

HK refuses to grant visa to Mayor Ma Ying-jeou

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) visit to Hong Kong has been canceled, since the Hong Kong government refused to issue a visa to Ma, Taipei City Government Spokesman Yu Tze-hsiang (游梓翔) said yesterday.

"We have just received notification from the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region that it will not issue a visa to Mayor Ma," Yu said yesterday afternoon. "But we know neither the why nor the wherefore."

According to Yu, Ma was to visit Hong Kong on Jan. 11 on an invitation from the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Hundred Club's Hong Kong branch for three days, to deliver speeches and talk about his experiences in governing Taipei City with people in Hong Kong.

The aborted trip was supposed to be Ma's third visit to Hong Kong during his tenure as mayor. Ma was able to obtain visas to Hong Kong in 1998 and 2001, and was popular with people in Hong Kong. Many people in Hong Kong said they are fond of Ma because he was born in Hong Kong in 1950.

Yu said that the city government submitted Ma's application form and required documents to the Hong Kong government requesting a visa on Dec. 24. However, unlike during its previous experiences, the city government did not get any response from Hong Kong although ten days had passed.

But the city government yesterday obtained the bad news from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the universities, which informed the city government that it will not give Ma a visa.

"Mayor Ma felt sorry about such an outcome. Ma's visit to Hong Kong is only to promote a cultural exchange, after all," Yu said. "But we have to stress that the Taipei City Government made the request at the invitation of Hong Kong non-governmental organizations. We are in a passive position."

Late in the day, Ma responded to the development.

"I'm afraid that if this kind of cultural activity can be rejected, the future development across the Strait would be influenced as well," Ma said. But he declined to speculate on the reasons for Hong Kong refusing his visit.

At present, the Hong Kong government allows people in Taiwan to obtain visas through the Internet.

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