Wed, Aug 06, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Kuang quizzed by prosecutors

SLEEPING ON IT The Taitung County commissioner spoke to prosecutors yesterday after disappearing following the questioning of other Taitung officials on Monday

By Jimmy Chuang and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Taitung County Commissioner Kuang Li-chen (鄺麗貞), who courted controversy by embarking on a 13-day inspection trip to Europe as a typhoon approached Taiwan, was named as an interested party after being questioned by Taitung prosecutors yesterday afternoon.

Taitung Prosecutor Lin Chia-hung (林嘉宏) released Kuang without bail after questioning her for more than four hours, CNA reported.

Kuang agreed to meet with prosecutors at 2pm, the report said, adding that she requested the presence of a lawyer two hours later.

The 11 Taitung County Government officials who traveled with Kuang and who were taken in for questioning by prosecutors after they returned to Taitung on Monday had been released, Taitung Chief Prosecutor Dai Wen-liang (戴文亮) said, adding that they had been “invited” to explain the nature of their trip to prosecutors before being allowed to go home at 1am yesterday.

Kuang and the others were questioned following speculation that they had wasted public money on the trip and had used it for sightseeing rather than official county business.

“We needed them to prove to us that the trip was really for business as they claimed and that no public funds were used for personal purposes,” Dai said.

Kuang held a press conference at 8:10pm after leaving the prosecutor’s office.

Joined by senior county government officials, Kuang bowed and apologized to Taitung residents for the third time.

Kuang said she took the initiative to talk to prosecutors yesterday afternoon after sleeping until noon.

She admitted she had learned about prosecutors questioning other officials before she went to bed on Monday night, but said she needed to take a rest before she could face anyone.

What she did during her trip to Europe would stand up to scrutiny, she said

She dismissed speculation that she had invited township mayors to join the trip because of next year’s city and county elections.

She said the county government’s budget for government staffers’ inspection trips abroad had been decreasing since she assumed office two years ago, adding that the county government had only spent about NT$865,000 (US$28,000) covering her inspection trips over the past two years.

She said she took eight inspection trips during the past two years because “Taitung was in urgent need of the energy to promote itself.”

She said she would attend the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Integrity Committee meeting today and was confident she would “live up to KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung’s [吳伯雄] expectations.”

Asked if she was worried about her chances of being re-elected next year, Kuang said she fully respected the choice of Taitung residents.

Earlier yesterday, Taitung County Government Secretary-General Wu You-chin (吳有進) told reporters that Kuang had called in the morning to ask for leave.

Wu was tight-lipped when asked about Kuang’s whereabouts, saying only she “had something she needed to take care of.”

He said he “could not bother Kuang” with questions regarding what she needed to deal with, adding it was unlikely she was trying to avoid the media.

Kuang disappeared after she was unable to fly back to Taitung because of heavy rain in the county on Monday afternoon.

Although media reported on Monday night that Kuang had planned to fly to Hualien before taking the train to Taitung, Kuang did not arrive at either Hualien Airport or Taitung Train Station later in the night.

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