Ministry canceling diplomats’ traffic tickets: lawmaker

By Lee Yu-hsin  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Nov 12, 2013 - Page 3

Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) on Sunday accused the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of helping foreign embassies cancel traffic tickets issued to their staff.

Huang said the ministry’s records showed that it had helped cancel 30 tickets issued to foreign dignitaries over the past three years. This is against the diplomatic immunities and privileges stated in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, as well as in the Regulations Governing Road Traffic Safety (道路交通安全規則), which only exempt foreign embassies from following parking rules when conducting business, she said.

For example, the ministry voided a speeding ticket issued in January last year to a Warsaw Trade Office in Taipei staff member who was caught driving through Taipei’s Wenshan District (文山) at speeds faster than the 60kph limit.

The ministry canceled six tickets given to Embassy of the Dominican Republic staff over the past two years for parking illegally and speeding in the downtown area.

Huang said that buses, cars and motorcycles are constantly competing for the right of the way in Taipei’s narrow streets. However, the ministry has allowed embassy workers to break traffic laws by canceling tickets given for driving behavior that could endanger the lives of the public, she said.

With the Legislative Yuan set to review the ministry’s budget for the next fiscal year, the legislator asked the ministry to address the situation immediately. She said the government must not allow foreign embassy staff to drive however they want just because their cars have diplomatic license plates, nor can the ministry help pay fines for traffic violations.

There are 393 vehicles with diplomat license plates in the nation, 56 of which belong to countries that have formal diplomatic ties with Taipei. The rest belong to trade representative offices.