TAIPEI: Taiwan’s new government on Sunday refused former president Ma Ying-jeou permission to visit Hong Kong, citing national security considerations, sparking an angry response from his party.
Ma, who stepped down on May 20 after eight years, applied to the presidential office early this month for permission to make a trip on June 15 to the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city.
He was to deliver a keynote speech at the Society of Publishers in Asia awards.
Ma, an advocate of rapprochement between Taiwan and China, was to have spoken about cross-strait relations and the Northeast Asia situation, according to his office.
But the office of new President Tsai Ing-wen, from the China-skeptic Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), rejected his application, which was reviewed by a special panel grouping senior officials from various government agencies.
The DPP trounced Ma’s Kuomintang Party in presidential and parliamentary elections in January.
“The presidential office has decided not to approve the former president’s application,” Tsai’s spokesman Alex Huang told reporters.
Huang termed Ma’s application as “sensitive,” “unique” and “crucial in a national security perspective.”