Wed, Jul 03, 2019 - Page 3 News List

No consensus on travel restriction for ex-officials

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

A round of cross-caucus negotiations on a proposed amendment that could permanently bar former officials and military officers with knowledge of sensitive information from visiting China ended in a stalemate yesterday.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) had originally submitted a draft amendment to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) that sought to bar certain officials from attending political or military events in China that would “undermine the nation’s dignity” for 15 years after leaving their posts, Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said.

The affected personnel would include former agency heads or deputy heads with knowledge of national defense, national security, Chinese affairs or diplomatic matters; intelligence agency heads; and former military personnel ranked lieutenant general or higher, Chiu added.

However, many lawmakers believe that a person’s loyalty to the nation should be permanent and not subject to a legal time frame, so the council and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus submitted a motion to permanently ban these officials from attending political or military events in China, Chiu said.

Actions that undermine the nation’s dignity include saluting flags or emblems used by the Chinese Communist Party or singing its anthems, the proposed amendment says.

However, citing Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) surprise visit to China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong in February, New Power Party caucus whip Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) asked why the MAC’s draft only included China, and left out Macau and Hong Kong.

DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) asked whether retired officials and generals would be permitted to attend a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) if given in the US.

Another proposed amendment says that officials whose work involves the national interest — as well as those who left their posts less than three years ago — must undergo a review by a panel of officials from the MAC, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of the Interior before being allowed to visit China.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip William Tseng (曾銘宗) asked Chiu to define “national interests,” to which Chiu replied that it varies from one agency to another and is defined in different laws.

However, Tseng said that the concept is too vague in the MAC’s proposal, which could leave the rule open to misuse.

The proposal also includes a provision that would require former officials privy to the aforementioned sensitive information to report any plans to visit China to the agency at which they worked, which raised doubts from KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), who accused the DPP of attempting to reinstate martial law, as the provision could “infringe the personal freedom” of former officials.

As the caucuses could not reach a consensus, Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) determined that the amendments would be deliberated at a plenary session today.

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