Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Presidential Office Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) yesterday both filed defamation lawsuits against the Chinese-language Next Magazine for alleging that they had played roles in the corruption scandal involving former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih (林益世).
Wu had asked the magazine to issue a retraction of its allegations that he introduced businessman Chen Chi-hsiang (陳啟祥) to Lin, who allegedly accepted NT$63 million (US$2.15 million) from Chen to help secure contracts with China Steel Corp (中鋼) and its subsidiaries.
“The magazine failed to clarify the allegations. Instead, it continued to publish incorrect reports about Vice President Wu’s role in the case. Vice President Wu respects freedom of speech, but has decided to file a suit in order to defend his reputation,” said Fu Tzu-sheng (傅祖聲), a lawyer for Wu.
Wu filed a civil suit against the magazine, its publisher Pei Wei (裴偉), editor-in-chief Chiu Ming-hui (邱銘輝) and reporter Tsai Hui-chen (蔡慧貞).
Fu said he would advise Wu to withdraw the suit if the magazine complies with Wu’s demand that it print a full-page retraction of the allegations.
The magazine first reported on the Lin scandal in June and Lin has been detained since July 2 after allegedly confessing to accepting money from Chen during his tenure as a legislator two years ago.
In its follow-up coverage on the scandal, the magazine also linked Wu’s friends and family members to the corruption scandal, and alleged in consecutive issues last month that Wu’s wife, Tsai Ling-yi (蔡令怡), his sister-in-law, Hau Ying-chiao (郝英嬌), and his family friend Wu Men-chung (吳門忠) were all involved in the case.
Wu Den-yih has spent the past weeks clarifying the reports that hinted about his and his family’s possible roles in the Lin scandal.
Meanwhile, Tseng, a former vice legislative speaker who was appointed to his post at the Presidential Office in February, was also alleged to have been involved in the scandal.
Political commentators Chen Tung-hao (陳東豪) and Huang Kuan-chin (黃光芹) further hinted at his role in the case by saying that “another secretary-general at a high level” was also involved.
Tseng had issued a statement denying the accusations. He said yesterday in a statement that he has asked his lawyer to file criminal lawsuits against Chen, Huang and the magazine for damaging his reputation through groundless accusations.
Whether unfounded or not, the allegations against the two top officials in President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration have pushed Ma’s public support to a new low of 15 percent.
In the latest survey released by Taiwan Indicate Survey Research last week, only 32.7 percent of respondents said they trusted Ma, while only 24.3 percent of those polled found Wu trustworthy.