Sun, Mar 21, 2010 - Page 3 News List

MOFA tells Ottawa to improve attitude at nation’s airports

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday urged the Canadian government to ensure a better attitude among immigration officers at its airports.

The ministry made the call in the wake of an incident in which a Taiwanese woman alleged mistreatment by Canadian immigration officials.

Lee Chun-hua (李春花), a 50-year-old from Taichung who does not speak English, was questioned for five hours at Vancouver International Airport on March 10. She was eventually deported and her visa revoked.

“We regard this as an isolated case, but we’ve asked the Canadian government to review the way its immigration officers question [visitors] and make improvements in that regard,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) told a press conference yesterday.

Asked to elaborate on whether Lee was mistreated by Canadian officers, as she alleges, Yang said: “Based on Lee’s complaint, if what she said is true, there is a lot of room for improvement on the Canadian side. That’s why we made our demand.”

Immediately after the press conference, the Presidential Office issued a statement saying that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had talked to Yang by telephone and instructed the ministry to tell Canada it must take Taiwan’s concerns over the matter seriously.

While asking the ministry to gain a better understanding of what happened to Lee, the statement also instructed officials to take action to ensure that Taiwanese citizens are treated with proper respect and their rights protected overseas.

The ministry should ask that Canada account for the incident, the statement said, adding that “If Canada fails to give a rational explanation for this, MOFA should lodge an official protest.”

Yang, however, did not relay Canada’s explanation of the incident, nor did he answer a question on whether Canada had apologized to Lee.

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