The Presidential Office came under fire again yesterday, this time for the allegedly improper use of taxpayers' money to pay for domestic help for the family of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) daughter.
The Presidential Office issued a statement yesterday afternoon dismissing the allegation and calling on the media to stop making "unnecessary interpretations" of the matter.
The statement said the president was still the owner of the apartment on Minsheng E Road, where his daughter Chen Hsing-yu (陳幸妤) and her husband Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘) now reside. The president and first lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍) relocated to the official Yushan Residence on Chongqing S Road in January 2001.
PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FONG, TAIPEI TIMES
Lin Hsiu-jen (
After Chen became president in May 2000, the Presidential Office put Lin on its payroll to serve the president and his wife.
The statement said the Presidential Office continued to pay Lin to work for the president's daughter after he and Wu moved out of the Minsheng apartment because Chen Hsing-yu is considered a member of the first family and Wu also makes frequent visits to the Minsheng residence.
The Presidential Office's statement came in response to reports published in yesterday's editions of the Chinese-language United Daily News and China Times that Lin has been on the Presidential Office payroll for the past six years even though Chen and Wu no longer live at the Minsheng apartment.
The reports said that if it made sense to put Lin on the government payroll, the same rationale could be used to have the taxpayers pay for a domestic helper for the president's mother, who lives in Kuantien Township (官田), Tainan County, and for the president's son Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), who is now in the US with his wife, since they are also members of the first family.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus whip Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛) said yesterday that the treasury should be reimbursed for Lin's salary over the past six years.
She also said that those responsible for the situation should be disciplined.
"The president has never been scrupulous in separating his public interest from his private affairs," Pan said.
"It's time for him to rectify the errors that he has been making for six years," she said.
Pressed for a comment by reporters, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said the legality of Lin being on the Presidential Office payroll needed to be clarified by specialists in laws governing personnel administration.
"I am unable to comment on this," he said.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Audit spokesman Wang Yung-hsing (
Opposition lawmakers are not the only ones complaining about Lin's payroll status.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said this new controversy had hurt the party's image. He asked the Presidential Office to clarify the situation immediately.
Tsai said the DPP had no idea that the Presidential Office was paying Lin's salary and that it disagreed with the way the office had handled the matter.
He said that while it was not illegal for the Presidential Office to do so, the public would perceive it as inappropriate.
He said Lin should go back to work at the president's official residence, since that is where she is assigned.
He also urged the members of the first family to be discreet regarding their behavior since the public is watching them with a magnifying glass.
"We think the Chao family should pay for a housekeeper on their own and should give back the money the Yushan Residence paid Lin," Tsai said.
DPP legislative caucus whip Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) also felt the party had been hurt by the controversy. He said the party felt powerless to prevent a similar controversy.
The Presidential Office did not respond to the calls for the government to be reimbursed for Lin's salary for the past six years. Office Spokesman David Lee (李南陽) said the office did not have anything new to add to its original statement.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Office also commented on the recent scandal involving alleged embezzlement from the special allowance fund.
President Chen said yesterday that he would be happy to personally explain the Presidential Office's special allowance fund to prosecutors and investigators in a bid to help establish the truth of the matter.
"The false accusations have seriously sabotaged the administration's credibility and affected the government's operations," the statement said. "We hope the public understands and respects the necessity and complexity of the state affairs the president has to handle."
As all expense accounts have been filed in accordance with procedure, the administration hopes the media would stop misleading the public and investigators with false accusations, the statement continued.
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