The China Post staff
A new version of passports will be issued on schedule in October, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokeswoman Chang Siao-yue said yesterday. However, the cover of the design is still being discussed, she said. In January, the Executive Yuan decided to have the words “Issued in Taiwan” printed on the anti-counterfeiting plastic films on their cover. However, the proposed new passport has stirred up criticism from a group of legislators from the ruling Democratic Progressive demanding for a “Taiwan Passport” instead. MOFA decided to use “Issued in Taiwan” on the cover in a bid to reduce possible disputes on the issue at home as well as avoiding misunderstanding in the international community, Chang said. She pointed out the decision to issue new passports was made because the ones in use now are fairly easy to be counterfeited or altered. Many passport holders have complained that they are mistaken for coming from mainland China while traveling abroad, Chang said. In light of the controversy over the cover of new passports, Chang said that MOFA will respect the opinions of the Legislature’s Foreign Affairs Committee as well as the DPP’s Central Standing Committee which are in favor of having “Taiwan Passport” printed on the cover. A group DPP lawmakers including Trong Chai and Shen Fu-hsiung strongly opposed the “Issued in Taiwan” cover, saying that the phrase belittles Taiwan. The lawmakers called off a protest yesterday scheduled outside MOFA after negotiations on Tuesday with Foreign Affairs Minister Eugene Chien. Chien noted that one major feature of the new passport new passport is its enhanced anti-duplication function, and that the changes of the passport are not merely limited to the cover. MOFA will seek consensus from all sides on the cover issue prior to the scheduled issue in October, and in the meantime, inside pages of new passports are being printed out, she said.
Chang also noted that MOFA has been reviewing several designs for the new passport cover, but declined to reveal details about the design. MOFA stressed that those who plan to go abroad in the fall will not be affected by the change of passport. Local media speculated that “Taiwan Passport” will be added in an inside page of the passport instead of the cover to avoid the notion of Taiwan independence.