The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said that late last month it had received a request from the Legislative Yuan to investigate any possible cases of legislators holding foreign citizenship.
“We received the request late July and have asked related units to help with the process,” said MOFA Spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政), adding it was difficult to give an approximate date when a result would be announced because the probe required the assistance of other countries.
It appeared that not much progress had been made in the case of probing lawmakers’ possible foreign citizenships.
The case stems from a March 12 report by Next Magazine, a weekly tabloid, which said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Lawmaker Diane Lee (李慶安) possesses dual citizenship.
Lee denied the allegations, arguing that her US citizenship was automatically stripped when she was elected as a Taipei City counselor in 1991.
However, US immigration law does not stipulate an automatic revocation of US citizenship when one of its citizens serves in senior level positions of another government.
All cases must be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis by an immigration judge, the US immigration Web site says.
In Taiwan, Article 20 of the Nationality Law (國籍法), which took effect on June 20, 2001, states that foreign citizens are prohibited from holding government office.
In June, all lawmakers were asked to give their personal information and consent to allow MOFA to verify whether they possessed foreign citizenship.
If the allegation is true, Lee would have to return her salary as a Taipei City councilor from 1994 to 1998 and as a legislator since 1998 — estimated at around NT$100 million (US$3.2 million). She would also lose her job as a legislator, forcing a by-election in Taipei City’s sixth district.
When asked by the Taipei Times for an update, the human resources section of the Legislative Yuan refused to divulge any details of the ongoing investigation, saying it has not been authorized to speak on the issue.
Meanwhile, Central Election Commission members yesterday failed to reach any consensus on the issue of Lee’s nationality and decided to postpone the discussion until the next commission meeting.
Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin and staff writer