Lawmakers on Wednesday revoked legislation that prevents pro-Taiwanese independence activists from putting "Republic of Taiwan" stickers on their Republic of China passports.
The Legislature's National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee removed Article Three of the Enforcement Rules of the Passport Act (????????) on Wednesday after several opposition lawmakers proposed an initiative to do so.
The article, which originally came into effect in January, prohibited Taiwanese citizens from affixing "Republic of Taiwan" stickers to the covers of their R.O.C. passports. Violation of the law would have resulted in revocation of the passport by government authorities.
The article had drawn harsh criticism from opposition lawmakers. New Power Party lawmaker Freddy Lim (???), the initiator of revoking the article, said the law violated the R.O.C. Constitution that protects the freedom of speech and expression of Taiwanese citizens.
Asked to comment, Director-General Kung Chung-chen (???) of the Foreign Ministry's Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) that is in charge of passport issuance, told reporters that the ministry respects the lawmakers' decision.
He explained that the law was only meant to protect the rights of Taiwanese citizens when they are traveling overseas since the use of the stickers could undermine the credibility of the country's passport.
There have been recent incidents in which Taiwanese passport holders using such stickers were denied entry by foreign countries, including Singapore, Kung said.
According to the Foreign Ministry, a total of 15 cases of denied entry into Macao have been reported since January due to the use of the "Republic of Taiwan" stickers by R.O.C. passport holders.
He stressed that the law was not intended to target only users of "Republic of Taiwan" stickers, but all citizens who modify their official travel documents, which could lead to suspicion of the authenticity of the documents.
"As a public servant, we hate to see the nation's passport turning into a source of controversy," he noted.
He stressed that the ministry will continue to remind travelers not to put stickers of any kind on their passports, especially on the document's front page, to avoid causing trouble during overseas travel.
A group of pro-Taiwan independence activists has been pushing the sticker campaign for months, advocating the modification of R.O.C. passport covers with tailor-made "Republic of Taiwan" stickers, which cover up the R.O.C. emblem on the document's cover.
Source: China Post