Sat, Dec 25, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Reports of passport problems are being exaggerated: MOFA

Staff Writer, with CNA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has said that reports of defects in the new Republic of China passports were overblown, considering that there have only been a few faulty documents among the 2 million issued.

Since the nation’s first biometric passports were issued on Dec. 29, 2008, the Bureau of Consular Affairs has received only 14 requests for new passports based on physical flaws in the documents, the ministry said in a statement released on Thursday.

Given that the bureau has issued nearly 2.3 million e-passports, it means that only about six-in-1 million have defects, the ministry said.

The passports were designed according to strict security and quality standards, the ministry said.

The state-owned Central Engraving and Printing Plant in Taipei County, which has the contract to print the new passports, was cited by the ministry in the statement as saying that it had adhered to the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

ICAO is a specialized UN agency that adopts standards and recommended practices for, among other things, the facilitation of border-crossing procedures for international civil aviation.

The plant, which also prints banknotes and stamps, said that after printing, the blank passports are sent to France for professional quality checks before being delivery to the bureau. The paper quality must meet international standards, it added.

The ministry made the remarks after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) said at a legislative hearing on Thursday that the new biometric passports were flawed and that the production was sub-standard.

Displaying an e-passport she said was issued in August, Lu pointed out that the spine was damaged.

“The whole passport is falling apart,” and it is basically a new one, she said at the time.

She also questioned the quality of the paper used, saying that the pages of the passport were “thin, like cicada wings,” and could be easily torn out.

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