The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday suspended plans to ease permanent residency rules for professionals from Hong Kong and Macau amid criticism of the policy, which was to begin tomorrow.
“The policy has been shelved for now. More dialogue is needed with lawmakers and the public to garner general support,” MAC Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said.
The relaxed residency rules announced on April 21 attracted objections, with critics saying that the process was rushed, and lacked proper national security and impact assessments.
Photo: Wu Shu-wei, Taipei Times
The original timetable would have had the Ministry of the Interior file for public notice tomorrow to revise the Regulations Governing Residency or Permanent Residency for People of the Hong Kong Area and the Macau Area (香港澳門居民進入臺灣地區及居留定居許可辦法).
The new regulations would have allowed professionals from the two territories who have held a work visa in Taiwan for at least five years, and earned at least double the minimum wage in the most recent year, to apply for permanent residency. Applicants would have been required to be in Taiwan for at least 183 days in each of the five years.
Chiu said that adjustments are to be made after discussions with lawmakers and the public while the plan is on hold.
“The intention is to attract Hong Kong and Macau professionals along with other skilled workers to Taiwan,” he said. “The plan would provide humanitarian assistance while also balancing national security issues.”
Chiu said that the council plans to implement the changes “in the near future.”
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers in the past week have asked to slow the pace to allow for closer scrutiny, especially regarding national security.
DPP Legislator Lai Jui-lung (賴瑞隆) said that some applicants might have ulterior motives, citing the possitiblity that some could become conduits for Chinese infiltration.
DPP Legislator Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀) in a legislative committee session on Wednesday accused council officials of not thinking the plan through properly, and not considering public opinion.
The council simply copied Article 46 of the Employment Service Act (就業服務法), which lists occupations open to foreign workers, which includes lawyers, veterinarians, immigration service consultants and sanitation workers, Lin said.
“Do we have a shortage of these workers? Does Taiwan need to import them?” she asked.
If the council implemented the policy without public consultation, it would have led to conflict and harmed people from the two territories, as well as other foreigners who want to stay and work in Taiwan, she said.
The council in a statement yesterday said that the new regulations were intended to support people seeking freedom and democracy, and who “voted with their feet” by moving to Taiwan.
The changes were not formulated in a short period without proper assessment, but deliberated at cross-ministerial meetings, discussed at length with government officials and had input from the public, the council said.
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