Tue, Jan 29, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Hsieh's promptings force Ma onto back foot over green card

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese National Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) last night made a public declaration on television in response to his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rival Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) demands that he disclose who in his family was a US green card holder.

Earlier yesterday, Ma had publicly denied having a green card, saying that "no members of his family possessed one."

In the declaration yesterday evening Ma said because his eldest daughter, Lesley Ma (馬唯中), was born in the US while he and his wife were studying there between 1974 and 1981, she had dual citizenship.

"However no other members of my family possess a US passport, not myself, my wife, or my youngest daughter, nor have we applied for one," he said.

Ma did admit that during his stay in the US he applied and obtained a green card, around 1977, in order to get student loans and employment after graduation.

He said that he ceased using his green card in the late 1980s and had applied for visas via the American Institute in Taiwan when traveling to the US, which "by American law, would be seen as giving up the green card."

"Both my wife's and my green card became invalid this way; my younger daughter, on the other hand, has never had a green card," he said. "Since both myself and my wife have given up our green cards for more than 20 years, when I was asked about it yesterday, I naturally said that I did not have a green card."

Earlier in the day, when he was approached for comment in Tainan, Ma said: "I've already answered the question and today's newspapers also ran stories with my response. No one in my family has a green card."

Ma then urged Hsieh to respond to a question he asked on Sept. 29 regarding why Hsieh could not urge the government to immediately allow direct cross-strait transportation and investment from China.

Ma said he always responded to Hsieh's questions quickly, while Hsieh failed to reciprocate.

Earlier yesterday Hsieh had raised the green card issue again.

"[Whether you have a green card] is such a simple question. Why can't Ma answer the question in person? If Ma lied about this, he should drop out of the election," Hsieh said.

Hsieh raised the same question on Sunday as he registered his candidacy, but it was Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦), a Ma camp spokesman rather than Ma who provided a response.

At a press conference held to declare his clean politics election platform, Hsieh persisted in questioning Ma, saying he would pursue the issue until Ma had provided a response.

"I didn't question Ma about the green card for no reason. Maybe he has spent the past two days trying to find a way with his lawyers to have the card revoked," Hsieh said.

"Ma keeps saying he is closely bound to the fate of Taiwan. If a presidential candidate holds a US green card or is able to apply for dependent status, it would be just like wearing a life jacket. His pledge was merely pretense," Hsieh said.

Later yesterday, after Ma had rebutted the allegations, Hsieh asked Ma to specify the date since when Ma and his family members had not had US green cards.

"Did Ma mean that he never owned a green card, doesn't have a green card now, or that his green card has been revoked?" Hsieh said.

Hsieh said his campaign office had obtained information from different informants and would make it public once it had been verified, adding that some of the information provided "quite detailed information," including the card numbers.

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