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June 23, 2017

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Civil servants' foreign residency in question

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Legislature yesterday passed the preliminary deliberation of an amendment to the Nationality Act, which stipulates that a Taiwan national civil servant or political appointee who acquires citizenship or permanent residency in another country has no right to hold government office in the Republic of China.

The Presidential Office last week held a press conference to present an official document issued by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), confirming that President Ma Ying-jeou's "abandonment of his former legal permanent resident status has long been included in appropriate U.S. immigration system records."

Following the Presidential Office's press conference last week, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers Pan Men-an (潘孟安), Yao Wen-chih (姚文智) proposed to amend the current Nationality Act.

Currently, the Nationality Act stipulates that an R.O.C national who holds citizenship in another country cannot serve as a civil servant in Taiwan's government offices unless he or she gives up such citizenship and provide certification as proof.

DPP lawmaker Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), who doubles as one of the Internal Committee's conveners, announced a cross-caucus negotiation resolution, saying that the lawmakers have agreed that not only civil servants but also political appointees are unable hold citizenship or permanent residency in another country. This also includes Hong Kong and Macau, Chen added.

According to the amendment, the R.O.C. national should give up such ties before taking up office and obtain an official certificate to prove the abandonment within one year.

Any R.O.C civil servant who currently possesses permanent residency in another country should abandon his or her foreign residency and provide an abandonment certificate within one year of this amendment passing through the Legislative Yuan, according to the amendment.

Chen read the cross-caucus negotiation resolution during the committee meeting, saying, however, that if an R.O.C civil servant claims that he or she cannot obtain the abandonment certificate due to regulations of the other country, then the foreign affairs authorities are entitled to investigate and determine whether or not his or her claim is true.

During the cross-caucus negotiation, Kuomintang (KMT) caucus whip Lin Hong-chih (林鴻池) asked lawmakers whether a civil servant who holds an invalid green card needs to provide an abandonment certificate after the amendment is passed. Lin added, "I am not referring to President Ma's case."

DPP lawmaker Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) responded that "of course he has to provide the certificate," adding that "holding an invalid green card does not mean he no longer has permanent residency in the U.S."

When asked to comment on the amendment, Interior Minister Chen Wei-zen said he agrees with forbidding political appointees from holding permanent residency in another country, noting that, however, he thinks experts on technology should be excluded from the regulations. Chen said he also thinks the regulations should not be imposed on all civil servants.

As the Ministry of the Interior and KMT lawmakers still hold opinions counter to those of DPP lawmakers, the amendment will be sent to another cross-caucus negotiation before being delivered to the Yuan Sitting.

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