Lawmakers worry about alleged visa bribery

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

Fri, May 10, 2013 - Page 3

Lawmakers across party lines yesterday continued to voice concerns over an alleged bribery scandal involving an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) previously posted in Hanoi, Vietnam, who allegedly issued Taiwanese visas in exchange for bribes.

Hsiao Yu-wen (蕭裕文), who was recently transferred back to the ministry, was accused of working in collusion with a broker agency in Vietnam operated by a Taiwanese, Tsao Pao-lin (曹保麟).

At a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, several lawmakers said that rumors regarding the scandal have been spreading throughout the Taiwanese community in Vietnam and they demanded that the ministry conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.

Anonymous messages were posted on an online forum — an unofficial Web site presumably used by MOFA staffers — since the middle of last month that Hsiao had accepted bribes in exchange for issuing visas.

Hsiao was allegedly transferred back to the ministry after Representative to Vietnam Huang Chih-peng (黃志鵬) earlier this year found some abnormalities in the issuance of visas processed by Hsiao.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said it was “an open secret” in Vietnam that Vietnamese women need to pay at least US$5,500 to get a visa for marriage in Taiwan and US$4,000 to obtain a student visa to study in Taiwan.

Of the money, US$1,000 is used by the broker agency as a bribe for officials and employees at the representative office to get the visas, Tsai said.

Hsiao and local broker agencies had approached Vietnamese who had been denied visas, telling them that they could get their visa applications approved if they made the payments, DPP Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said.

Head of the ministry’s Ethics Office, Chen Tung-jung (陳東榮), said that the ministry has sent a team to Vietnam to investigate after the allegations were first made, but the team found no evidence of the alleged irregularities.

Chen said that the ministry will continue to look into the case and will send the matter to the judicial system for further investigation, if necessary.