MOFA to put stickers on e-passport to cover Dulles Airport image

2017/12/31 21:50:15 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
MOFA to put stickers on e-passport to cover Dulles Airport image

Taipei, Dec. 31 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has decided to use stickers to cover the error it made in the newly updated Taiwan e-passport, which bears an image of Washington's Dulles International Airport instead of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

It will cost around NT$16 million (US$538,600) to make the correction to the 550,000 copies of the e-passports that have already been printed by the Central Engraving and Printing Plant (CEPP), said Christine Tsai (蔡幼文), the deputy director-general of the MOFA's Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA).

MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) estimated that it will take about one month to apply the stickers, which will show an image of the Taoyuan airport, to the 550,000 copies of the next-generation biometric passports.

The ministry originally thought it was going to have to replace the 550,000 e-passports, which would have cost an estimated NT$220 million.

Lee said the ministry and CEPP have been in talks over the past few days to discuss how to cover the incorrect airport image with the correct one at a cheaper cost to save taxpayers money, and the sticker solution was what they came up with.

The sticker will not jeopardize the integrity of the e-passport as the ministry will inform customs agencies around the world of the decision, according to Tsai.

The passport fiasco was revealed on Dec. 26 in a local media report, which said netizens had been pointing out that one of the images on the pages of the new e-passport was that of Dulles International Airport.

At first, the Foreign Ministry rejected the claims, but later said it was recalling all 285 of the new passports that had been issued to that point and would return those that had already been printed to the CEPP.

On Wednesday, BOCA chief Agnes Chen (陳華玉) voluntarily stepped down to take responsibility for the oversight, while Taiwan's top envoy to Canada Kung Chung-chen (龔中誠), who was BOCA's chief when the new passport was designed, has been recalled and demoted.

Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維) on Friday apologized to the public for the error and said he will also take responsibility for the fiasco.

(By Joseph Yeh)
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