Former Taiwan President Ma Ying Jeou Barred From Speaking In Hong Kong

Former Republic of China President Ma Ying-jeou was barred by the new Tsai Ing-Wen government from attending a gala hosted by The Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) in Hong Kong. SOPA is a business association, which was founded in 1982 and based in Hong Kong. It includes many well know publishers and their media products, including The Economist, The New York Times, Bloomberg, and the Financial Times. Despite being based in Hong Kong, SOPA’s mission statement directly states that SOPA is dedicated to promoting the freedom of press and journalism, and it had previously clashed with the Chinese Communist Party.[1]

Nominally the reason that the new government scuttled Ma’s plan to travel to Hong Kong is that Ma can “endanger national security.” The Tsai government claims that the decision is made in accordance with Taiwan’s National Security Law. They argue that since Ma had left office less than a month ago, and having been the president and reviewed many national secrets, Ma should not travel to Hong Kong. Tsai’s Presidential Office stated that given Ma’s sudden announcement, and lack of previous cooperation between Hong Kong and Taiwan’s security ministries, Ma’s safety, while he is in Hong Kong cannot be guaranteed, and national security can be leaked as a result of his trip.

Ma hit back. At a press conference in response to being denied leave, Ma quipped that “I did not know that Hong Kong is so dangerous.” Ma’s party, the KMT has also accused the Tsai government of political vendetta against her predecessor. They claim that the decision to nix Ma’s first post-presidency foreign trip showed that Tsai lacked the confidence to govern Taiwan properly. They argue she is too paranoid to let her predecessor speak publicly, least something detrimental to her political fortunes happen.[2] Some “Deep Blue” commentators have even accused the new government of prevent Ma from travelling because the D.P.P. fear Ma would steal the spotlight from Tsai and her upcoming trip to Panama, which is one of the few countries in the world that still diplomatically recognizes Taiwan.[3]

Others took a softer view, believing that Tsai was pressured by hard-line “Deep Green” members of her own party. These people believe Tsai’s pragmatism and lack of stressing the points they cherish, most importantly, outright declaration of Taiwanese independence, is threatening to split the D.P.P.[4] Banning Ma from travelling to Mainland China is a concession Tsai had to make to preserve party unity and prevent an outright rebellion from the radicals.

Perhaps surprisingly, banning Ma from travelling to Hong Kong would not be the first time after the handing over of power on May 20th that the D.P.P. has accused its leader of leaking national secrets. On July 8th, a group of D.P.P. legislators, including Wang Ding-Yu, Tsai Yi-Yu, and Lo Chin-Cheng, accused Ma of taking copies of top secret documents as he left the presidential office.[5] The accusation eventually fizzled out due lack of evidence and public attention. The accusation is notable, as despite having been less than one month in power, the D.P.P. is already trying to discredit its predecessors based on flimsy evidence. Notably, out of all former Taiwanese presidents, Lee Teng-Hui was denounced by his own party after he switched allegiance to the Pan-Green Coalition, Chen Shui-Bian was notoriously corrupt and jailed, but is demanding special amnesty because he is a former president. With the handing over of power the D.P.P. is apparently seeking to discredit or jailing its predecessor. These actions do not speak well of Taiwan’s democratic maturity and show that it might still have some ways to go before Taiwanese politicians accept one of the most fundamental rules of democratic systems: that political vendettas are unacceptable and being in power does not grant extralegal privileges.






“Bu Zhun Qu! Ma Bu Neng Qu Xiang Gang Yin Wei Hui Xie Lu Guo Jia Ji Mi.” CtiTV, 2016.

Campbell, Charlie. “Taiwan Nixes Former President Ma Ying-Jeou’s Hong Kong Visit.” Time, 13.06.2016 2016.

“Ma Ying Jiu Suan? Yuan Lai Xiang Gang Ze Me Wei Xian, Cai Ying Wen Xia Bu Liao Tai.” TVBS, 2016.

“The Society of Publishers in Asia.” The Society of Publishers in Asia, //

Zheng, Wei Zheng. “Ma Yi She Si Ying Ji Mi Gong Wen, Lu Wei Yao Te Zheng Zu Cha Ban.” Liberty Times, 08.06.2016 2016.


[1] “The Society of Publishers in Asia,” The Society of Publishers in Asia, //

[2] “Ma Ying Jiu Suan? Yuan Lai Xiang Gang Ze Me Wei Xian, Cai Ying Wen Xia Bu Liao Tai,” (TVBS, 2016).

[3] “Bu Zhun Qu! Ma Bu Neng Qu Xiang Gang Yin Wei Hui Xie Lu Guo Jia Ji Mi,” (CtiTV, 2016).

[4] Charlie Campbell, “Taiwan Nixes Former President Ma Ying-Jeou’s Hong Kong Visit,” Time, 13.06.2016 2016.

[5] Wei Zheng Zheng, “Ma Yi She Si Ying Ji Mi Gong Wen, Lu Wei Yao Te Zheng Zu Cha Ban,” Liberty Times, 08.06.2016 2016.

Hanyu Huang