President Ma's daughter marries model citizen

President Ma Ying-jeou and his daugther

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Presidential Office has confirmed that the first daughter's husband, identified earlier only as Tsai Pei-jan, is also former fashion model Allen Tsai.

Late Monday, the Presidential Office released the identity of the "first son-in-law," who had fallen subject to intense media speculation. Tsai Pei-jan is a Taiwan-born, US-raised investment banker who now lives in Hong Kong with first daughter Lesley Ma, according to spokeswoman Garfie Li.

He is also a former fashion model, according to media reports that the Presidential Office confirmed yesterday.

Tsai, born Aug. 5, 1980, signed with US modeling agency Next in 2008 and has worked for Esprit, Gap and Levi's. Tsai has also appeared in editorial features for Italian Vogue and Vanity Fair, noted Chinese-language media The China Times, United Daily News and Apple Daily.

President Ma Ying-jeou authorised staff yesterday to confirm that Tsai Pei-jan is indeed Allen Tsai.

According to a Presidential Office aide, the president had kept the marriage private out of respect for his daughter and wife's wishes. On Monday, pan-green legislators raised concerns that the unknown son-in-law could jeopardize Taiwan's national security. The first family relented and released details at aides' suggestion.

Tsai has Taiwanese nationality and there is no national security risk to Taiwan, said an aide who asked to remain unnamed.

Military Service

At the Legislative Yuan, the Democratic Progressive Party broached the topic of military service for the first son-in-law.

"If Tsai Pei-jan is a Taiwan national, doesn't he need to serve in the military?" said DPP Liu Chien-kuo during an interpellation session. Premier Jiang Yi-huah responded that Tsai may be eligible for conscription if he relocated to Taiwan.

Later, the Overseas Chinese Affairs Council confirmed that Tsai, an overseas Chinese, is eligible for conscription after returning to Taiwan.

Tsai can be conscripted after one year of Taiwan residence, or after living in Taiwan for over four months at least three times, said the council's Chang Min-liang.

No Security Detail

Also yesterday, the Presidential Office addressed lawmakers' objection to Lesley Ma's residence in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China.

"Hong Kong is an international city ... not even government officials of Taiwan are barred from going to Hong Kong," said the aide.

The National Security Bureau responded to questions about the first daughter's security.

There is a protocol in place in the event that security concerns arise, though neither Lesley Ma nor her husband has a protection detail in Hong Kong, said the bureau.

The first daughter is eligible for special service protection, but does not receive a detail when residing outside of Taiwan and its outlying islands, according to the Special Service Act.

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