President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has designated Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) his special envoy to the official inaugurations of the heads of states of three of the nation’s diplomatic allies next month.
Yang is scheduled to visit Nicaragua and Guatemala in Central America and Gambia in Africa during a 19-day tour that starts on Tuesday, during which he will make several transit stops in the US and Europe.
He will attend the swearing-in ceremony for Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on Jan. 10, that of Guatemalan president-elect Otto Perez Molina on Jan. 14 and the inauguration ceremony for Gambian President -Yahya -Jammeh on Jan. 19.
“These are our country’s important allies and we would like to express our congratulations to them in person,” Yang said, adding that his stopovers in the US and EU would be purely for transit purposes.
Separately, Yang said he decided on Thursday to overrule a policy that would have required nationals from Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines who have married a Taiwanese and are seeking residential visas to stay in Taiwan for more than six months to have their fingerprints taken.
Bureau of Consular Affairs Director--General Thomas Chen (陳經銓) announced the policy at a press briefing on Thursday morning.
Chen said the policy was aimed at preventing fake marriages and targeted at countries where the -processing of identity cards is not rigorous, citing figures indicating that between 15 percent and 30 percent of spouses from these countries were suspected of fake marriages and are denied visas.
However, Yang said the issue was “not urgent” and the situation “had improved in recent years.”
“Considering the limited manpower and equipment [at the ministry’s overseas missions] to process fingerprinting, we will focus on more pressing problems,” Yang said, referring to identity fraud involving migrant workers.
Yang brushed off a media inquiry as to whether the U-turn was made to avoid upsetting foreign spouses in the run up to the Jan. 14 election. It is estimated that between 80,000 and 90,000 people from that group are eligible to vote next month.