Taiwanese authorities have prevented former president Ma Ying-jeou from visiting Hong Kong, citing the sensitivity of the territory and lack of security cooperation as reasons for the decision.
According to United Daily News, Ma had originally planned to attend an award presentation dinner of the Society of Publishers in Asia where he was to speak on cross-strait and East Asian relations.
After rejecting his application, Taiwan’s Presidential Office released a rather terse statement outlining the reasons why a special task force set up to review his request had chosen to pull the plug on his visit.
Given the sensitive nature of the Hong Kong SAR, Taiwanese authorities believed it would be difficult to properly supervise his visit, especially given the lack of cooperation between Hong Kong and Taiwan’s security forces.
Despite Ma Ying-jeou originally being born in Kowloon during 1950, Taiwan’s security information protection act places travel restrictions on former government officials. Former presidents and vice presidents are subject to these for three years after leaving office.
Ma is reportedly the first former president to apply for an overseas visit since the legislation was introduced back in 2003.
Presidential spokesman Alex Huang said that as Ma had only recently stepped down from the presidency, it would be improper to let him travel abroad while they reviewed exactly what classified information he had accessed.
Ma said farewell to the Taiwanese presidency on May 20 when Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, assumed office after a landslide victory in January’s general election.
His final day in office saw him become a viral video star, with a playful video released on his Facebook account racking up an incredible 8 million views.