Fri, Jul 20, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Vanessa Shih denies rumors of a relationship

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Vanessa Shih adjusts her glasses at an event in Taipei on Monday.

Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Vanessa Shih (史亞平) yesterday dismissed rumors that she was too close to one of former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s (李光耀) sons as “groundless.”

“It is not true. Like all the other rumors, they are all off base,” Shih said.

Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) said sources within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had told him that Lee once pointed his finger at Shih and it seemed that he was “enraged” at Shih or that he “blamed” her for something.

Lee was unhappy with Shih because she was too close to his youngest son, Lee Hsien Yang (李顯揚), Chang said.

Lee Hsien Yang, 55, is married with three children.

Asked to elaborate on the nature of the alleged relationship, Chang said he would like to think that the reason why Shih approached Lee Hsien Yang was for help negotiating a bilateral trade deal — the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP).

Chang said he viewed the matter from a positive standpoint: that it was for the sake of the ASTEP negotiations “rather than the other way around, as rumored within the ministry.”

In response to Chang’s comments, Shih called for an end to all the rumors.

“The spread of baseless rumors not only causes harm to the parties concerned, it is also impolite to [Lee Hsien Yang],” Shih said.

“I did not have any official dealings with Mr Lee [Hsien Yang] and we had no personal friendship. You could say that I am not acquainted with him. I have made it crystal clear. There is no gray area in the matter,” Shih said.

The rumor surfaced when Chang made it public on a TV political talk show on Wednesday afternoon, at a time when the Control Yuan was struggling to convince the public about its investigation, led by Chou Yang-shan (周陽山), who said he found that Shih “damaged” Taiwan-Singapore relations because of a “dereliction of duty” when she was posted to the country.

The Control Yuan on Wednesday decided to uphold an earlier decision that the results of Chou’s investigation should remain classified to protect relations between Taiwan and Singapore, leaving questions regarding Shih’s performance in the city-state to linger.

Asked if the relationship between Shih and Lee Hsien Yang was part of his findings, Chou said he learned a lot of information during his investigation, but he did not include it all in his report.

“Unless I have evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt, I can’t include it in my report. On that [the alleged relationship], I can only say I have no comment,” Chou said.

Chou said the decision not to declassify the report was made by 16 or 17 of the 20 members of a meeting of the Committee on Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs on Wednesday.

Under fire for not being able to substantiate the charges he brought against Shih, Chou said the central part of his report was based on the daily work record kept by the representative office in Singapore and that was classified information.

Chou has also denied accusations by some KMT lawmakers that he took revenge on Shih because the representative office reportedly did not treat him very well when he was in Singapore.

People First Party Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪) yesterday said Chou should consider stepping down if he failed to prove that his investigation was evidence-based.

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