MOFA to beef up security, installing card-access system

By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is slated to spend money to add access control systems at the major entrances of its headquarters in Taipei as part of ongoing efforts to tighten security at its installations. MOFA is scheduled to allocate NT$600,000 of its budget to add security access control card systems at all entrances to its headquarters in downtown Taipei, a MOFA official said yesterday. All doors and elevators inside the headquarters building will also be equipped with the access system, stated the official, who asked to remain anonymous.

The latest security measures will officially be launched next year, the official said, adding that the move is part of efforts by the ministry’s to beef up security controls.

In the future, all personnel will be required to use access cards when riding the elevators and passing through doors within the MOFA headquarters building, the official said. Currently, all visitors seeking to enter MOFA headquarters through its main front gate or west gate must provide identification documents before entering the building, according to pertinent regulations.

After entering the building, they can walk freely around the building by using staircases. The MOFA official said yesterday that security controls in the foreign ministry are relatively loose in comparison with its counterparts around the world. The ministry, therefore, decided to make the adjustment for reasons of national security. MOFA previously tightened its security controls in late 2011 after one of its former interns eluded numerous guards to enter the ministry and gained access confidential files, exposing serious security weaknesses.

Security Leak An unidentified intern disclosed on his Facebook page in August 2011 that it required little effort for him to enter MOFA headquarters, and he was neither stopped nor questioned by security guards. He also easily gained access to many confidential files during his three-month internship there, adding that he had checked several historical files which recorded details of Taiwan’s military and foreign affairs as well as anti-communist files, according to the Chinese-language weekly journal Next Magazine. The magazine also sent its own reporters to confirm the accusations made by the intern and found that the mishap occurred as a result of lax security measures. In response to the report, then-MOFA spokesman James Chang told reporters the ministry had taken steps to beef up security at the foreign ministry.