Republic of China-in exile President Ma Ying-jeou's days in Boston are casting a long shadow on his new administration.
First, there was the Examiner exclusive report about Ma's 1980 error-filled Harvard Law School doctoral thesis. "Typos don't really matter that much" was the response of Ma's faculty advisor. Ma's official spokesperson, Wang Yu-chi, declared that Harvard's issuance of the degree was proof of the quality of the thesis. Examiner readers have been helping track down missing footnotes and an update on the thesis controversy is expected soon.
Then came along a Massachusetts birth certificate, signed by Ma upon the birth in Boston of his daughter, a United States citizen. In the official state-issued document, Ma stated that he was born in Shenzhen, China. The only trouble is that Ma now claims to have been born in Hong Kong, a British colony, and not in China. There may be some innocent explanation why Ma told Massachusetts authorities he was born in China instead of Hong Kong but he hasn't given it, side-stepping questions about the Massachusetts birth certificate bearing his signature.
Now it is Ma's old 'green card' during his lengthy stay in the United States that is in the news. Ma applied for, and received, permanent resident status in the U.S., which was documented by a so-called green card provided by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
On Monday, the Legislative Yuan's Internal Administration Committee passed an amendment to the Nationality Act banning anyone with permanent residency in a foreign country from holding public office.
Legislator Wu Yu-sheng of Ma's KMT party said, "Banning officials from holding foreign residency has a symbolic meaning to his or her loyalty to this country and is a way to enhance public confidence in the government."
Ma's deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang sought to stop the amendment in committee and is expected to wage a fight against the requirement before the General Assembly.
A Ma spokesperson told the Taipei Times that the amendment did not apply to Ma because his green card was no longer valid. The issue of Ma's green card was raised briefly last year in the presidential campaign but did not attract much attention.
Legislator Chai Trong-rong, of the opposition DPP party, has raised the issue of Ma's birth citing the Massachusetts birth certificate and other statements signed by Ma attesting to a mainland China birth. Thus far, Chai's questions have been ignored by Ma and most of the Taiwanese news media.
One thing seems certain; we have not heard the last about Ma's residence in Massachusetts.