VP denies daughter the recipient of special treatment in passport change

By Lauly Li ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday said that as far as he knows, his daughter, Wu Tzu-an (吳子安), did not use his position in the government as leverage while she was renewing her son’s passport.

Wu yesterday attended Grandparents Day celebrations in New Taipei City, later telling press that he would disapprove if it came out that his daughter had asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) for a better than usual service in regard to his grandson’s passport renewal, as alleged in a report.

Wu said, however, that as far as he is aware, his daughter did not get the passport renewed because of her relationship with him, nor did he receive calls or text messages from her asking for help. Wu further noted that his name does not even appear on his grandson’s passport, therefore MOFA staff would not know their relationship. The Chinese-language Apple Daily on Friday said that Wu Tzu-an had received special treatment when her son’s passport was renewed at an airport in only a few hours. Local press said that Wu’s daughter was taking her son for a vacation to Palau on Friday morning. Upon arrival at the airport at around 10 a.m., she reportedly discovered that her son’s passport was about to expire.

Apple Daily said MOFA’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) office at the airport received Wu Tzu-an’s passport renewal application at 11 a.m. and returned a new passport at 12:21 p.m. The departure of Wu Tzu-an’s plane, which had 150 passengers aboard, was delayed by 11 minutes. Commentators have claimed that the VP’s daughter was the recipient of special treatment, raising heated discussion over the weekend. Wu yesterday said that it appears MOFA has been criticized for high efficiency in emergency passport renewal, adding that he is sorry to the ministry for the trouble caused by the incident. MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said Taiwanese nationals can file for emergency passport renewal at BOCA’s airport office if their passports are about to expire before boarding a plane. Kao said that BOCA has been providing this service for years, adding that MOFA has also previously announced this service to the public. Kao said that BOCA staff followed standard procedures in renewing the passport of Wu’s grandson, noting that staff did not know the applicant’s relationship with the vice president. She said BOCA’s airport office provides “emergency assistance,” adding that MOFA suggests people double-check the validity of their travel documents before traveling abroad.

According to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport website, the BOCA counter does not accept emergency passport renewal, visa or travel document verification applications.