Wed, Mar 11, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Residency clause not a threat to Ma, KMT legislator says

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) yesterday dismissed media speculation that his proposed amendment targeting government officials over foreign residency could put President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in an uncomfortable position.

“Ma’s US green card has been invalidated. He does not have either a green card or dual citizenship,” Wu told reporters. “The proposed amendment has nothing to do with Ma.”

Despite objections from the Ministry of the Interior, the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee on Monday completed a preliminary review of a proposed amendment to the Nationality Act (國籍法), barring anyone with permanent residency status in another country from holding public office.

“Barring officials from holding foreign residency has symbolic implications on his or her loyalty to this country. [The amendment] is a way to enhance public trust in the government,” said Wu, who presided over Monday’s meeting.

The current version of the Nationality Act only prohibits people with citizenship in another country from serving in office.

The proposed amendment, however, prompted concerns within political circles, as Ma would be required to present documents proving the loss of his green card if the amendment cleared the legislature.

During the presidential campaign last year, Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) alleged that Ma still possessed a green card.

Ma said his green card, which he obtained in the 1970s, was automatically invalidated when he applied for a US visa in 1985.

He has never made the Abandonment of Alien Status as a Lawful Permanent Resident form (I-407), or any other evidence, public.

KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said every government official should abide by the amendment if it was adopted.

“Even the president must follow the law,” Lo said.

KMT Legislator Chen Hsiu-ching (陳秀卿) opposed the proposal, however, saying the ban could discourage overseas talent from serving in government.

During a question-and-answer session with Chen, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) said he was in favor of barring political appointees and senior Cabinet officials from holding residency in another country, but said he had reservations as to whether the restriction should apply to ordinary public officials.

Minister of the Interior Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) said the ministry had not probed the foreign residency status of all public officials.

He said a study of the impact of the proposed amendment would have to be prepared before the second and third readings of the bill.

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