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    Posted May 19, 2014 by

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    A Long-lived Lie That Costs More Than A Bunch of New Lies


    Amid Taiwan’s heated Presidential Campaign 2008, Ma Ying-jeou (MYJ) was accused of possessing the US Permanent Resident (PR) status. Ma immediately retorted that none of his family members possessed Green Card, but then had to admit that his two daughters were born U.S. citizens while his wife and he had “abandoned” their Green Cards more than 20 years before. The reckless princeling said that their green cards “automatically went invalid,” though there is no such thing in U.S. immigration regulations. Anyway, he dodged the mishap and got elected president with the aid of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the quasi-U.S. embassy, which insisted on its neutral posture and made no comment out of respect for Ma’s precious privacy.

    However, people stayed suspicious and raised the same issue four years later when Ma ran for a second term. During her stay in the U.S., Miss Tsai Ying-wen, the other candidate for the Presidential Campaign 2012, protested to the U.S. government that Ma’s related information in the U.S. official webpages could no longer be reached as ever. Tsai presumed that it must have been removed or classified by the U.S authorities, but there was nothing she could do about Ma’s atypical privilege.

    Now, in 2014, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will enact the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) on June 1st, which stipulates that U.S citizens and permanent residents around the world have to file all their account information and income to the U.S government. Ma’s long-lived lie about his green card has emerged again to embarrass his office. On May 14th, Taiwan-based Next Magazine published an article saying that Ma, to the shame of all the citizens, might have to file his tax return to the U.S. government due to FATCA.

    This time AIT amazingly proves capable of a lot more than just keeping quiet and hiding the information. AIT spokesperson Mark V. Zimmer sprang to Ma’s defense. Soon after the Presidential Hall held a press conference to deny the report, Mr. Zimmer did the same thing, adding that only MYJ himself could possibly know when and how his green card was cancelled. The following day, the Presidential Hall held another press conference to show a reply letter from Joseph R. Donovan Jr, the Managing Director of AIT, who confirmed to Shen Lyu-shun, the Representative of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECRO): “We have previously been informed that President Ma Ying-jeou’s abandonment of his former legal permanent resident status has long been included in appropriated U.S. immigration system records. This issue is therefore closed.”

    Unfortunately, the reply letter raised new doubt.

    Ever since 2008, MYJ has defended his loyalty to Taiwan by claiming that his green card had gone “invalid automatically” because of the time due, which means he did not abandon his PR status officially and thus might still possess it. However, Donovan’s reply confirmed the other way that Ma has “officially abandoned” his PR status . So, who is/are lying?

    If Ma has lost his PR status of the U.S., when, where, how, and in what form did MYJ lose his PR status of the U.S.? Obviously, neither MYJ nor Donovan has ever offered solid proof or official documents, e.g. the I-401, to support their contradictory arguments.

    Probably to make up for the weak verification, the media in Taiwan circulated on May 16th the news that an anonymous official of U.S. Department of State confirmed, “The United States has long recognized President Ma Ying-jeou's abandonment of U.S. legal permanent resident status. That matter is closed.” The statement quoted from nowhere emphasized again that MYJ has lost his U.S. permanent residency a “long” time ago. Yet, no similar information could be retrieved from the official web pages of the Department of State.

    It is a custom of journalists to cite information from anonymous resources, if the government tends to indirectly confirm scandals or to fly a kite for new policies. Yet MYJ’s U.S. PR status is no such case. If the U.S. government deems it as a fact, there is just no need to do it anonymously.

    Donovan’s letter shown in the press conference, nevertheless, is the most intriguing part. It is most likely just a personal letter with no official authority. First, it had no official reference number though Donovan’s signature was followed by his AIT title. Moreover, if it was an official reply letter to TECRO, the inquiry letter should be released for the press too, so that the public would be able to know when and with what status, official or private, Representative Shen sent the letter in the first place.

    Anyway, the whole event casts doubt on the role of the U.S. government. The U.S. seems to have shifted her official stance from taking no sides in 2008 to a quick support of Ma in 2014. What has happened? Has the U.S. openly reversed her longstanding official position that she will not interfere in domestic cases in other countries? Are U.S. public servants challenging, or being instructed to challenge, this diplomatic tradition?

    Six years ago Miss Tsai Ying-wen got an elusive answer from Stephen M. Young, then Director of the American Institute in Taiwan: “in general terms that cases involving green card status are complex.” An AIT reply letter that has no reference number and contradicts Ma’s “automatic invalidation” is indeed a very complex irregularity.

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