Taiwan’s Presidential Office today announced in a press briefing that it is rejecting former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou’s application to visit Hong Kong to attend the SOPA 2016 Awards for Editorial Excellence, hosted by the Society of Publishers in Asia, as the keynote speaker on June 15. As per the Classified National Security Information Protection Act, government personnel who handle classified information are restricted from leaving the country for three years after leaving office and must apply to the original agency to travel internationally.
After reviewing the Ma’s application, President Tsai Ing-wen’s staff recommended rejecting the application due to:
- Former President Ma handled extremely sensitive and classified information. As he had only left office for less than a month, the information cannot risk become de-classified.
- More time is needed to catalog the classified information handled by Ma.
- Hong Kong is considered to be highly sensitive in terms of maintaining Taiwan’s national security. There is difficulty in controlling the risk of a former head of state visiting there.
- Taiwan’s National Security Agency has not worked with Hong Kong government before. There is not enough time to communicate and negotiate all the security and protocol details with both Hong Kong and PRC governments.
The Presidential Office further suggested Ma to give his speech via video-conferencing, as was suggested by his government when he was invited to speak in Hong Kong in February this year. Ma’s office later released a statement protesting the rejection and expressing his displeasure.