By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
TAIPEI, Taiwan — An emergency passport renewal for the vice president’s grandson at the airport on Friday was not done out of privilege, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday. General Thomas Chen (陳經銓), MOFA’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) director, said Taiwanese travelers who find that their passports are about to expire before boarding a plane can file for emergency passport renewal at BOCA’s office at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. “It normally takes about four days for your passport to be renewed. But if you can prove that it’s urgent, you can file for application at the airport and have your new passport ready within hours,” Chen told local media yesterday. “It is not a privilege, anyone can file for the emergency service by paying an extra of NT$900,” he noted. Chen made the comments after a local newspaper report stated that Vice President Wu Den-yih’s (吳敦義) grandson had received special treatment at the airport on Friday. The Chinese-language Apple Daily said yesterday that Wu’s daughter Wu Tzu-an (吳子安) was taking her son for a vacation to Palau on Friday.
Upon arrival at the airport, Wu Tzu-an found that her son’s passport was about to expire. The BOCA office at the airport later renewed her son’s passport within hours. Wu Tzu-an’s plane, which had 150 passengers, was kept waiting during the process. Flight Delayed
The flight was ultimately delayed for 11 minutes before departure, the Apple Daily said. Opposition lawmakers yesterday alleged that Wu Tzu-an’s son had received special treatment because he is Wu’s grandson. Lawmakers also noted that BOCA’s website specifically pointed out that its office at the airport does not accept emergency passport renewals and applications. Asked to comment, Chen said yesterday that the BOCA doesn’t want to publicize the emergency service because of limited manpower at the airport. “We only have four staff and one passport-making machine at the airport,” he noted. But he said the office does offer such service to all travelers in cases of emergency. He urged Taiwanese travelers to travel with a passport with at least six months left before expiration and not to apply for the emergency service unless it is genuinely necessary. Chen also noted that BOCA’s staff at the airport did not know the person who was applying for emergency passport renewal service on Friday was Wu’s grandson. According to statistics offered by MOFA, 330 people have applied for emergency passport renewal and application at the BOCA’s office at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport over the past two years.