An application by Taiwan’s former president Ma Ying-jeou to visit Hong Kong next week has been turned down by the country’s Presidential Office.

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou listens to a question during a news conference before his upcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, at the Presidential Office in Taipei
Taiwan’s former president Ma Ying-jeou photo: Reuters/Pichi Chuang.

Ma was set to deliver a speech at the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) awards ceremony on Wednesday.

A special task force reviewing Ma’s application made the decision.

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang told reporters that the application was rejected as Ma had stepped down as president less than a month ago; confidential reports and information Ma received from the administration have yet to be confirmed; Hong Kong is an area of concern in relation to Taiwan’s national security and because there is no system of cooperation between the country’s Security Bureau and the Hong Kong SAR.

Taiwanese regulations mean that former officials with access to classified information face travel restrictions for three years after leaving office.

In a statement published on Sunday night, SOPA said that they will arrange for Ma to address the audience via video link.

“We are disappointed that Mr. Ma cannot be with us in person but we look forward to a very successful Wednesday evening with awards being given out in 18 categories for the best journalism in the Asia Pacific region,” Chair of the SOPA Editorial Committee S.K. Witcher said.

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.