Examination Yuan President John Kuan (關中) yesterday defended himself against allegations that he regularly “skipped work” and went to a “pricy, but unlicensed” massage parlor in his official vehicle and escorted by bodyguards.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Tung Chung-yen (童仲彥) made the allegations during a press conference earlier in the day, saying Kuan should explain, apologize and resign.
Showing a videotape, which he said was sent by an ordinary citizen, Tung alleged that Kuan visited a massage parlor at about 4pm or 5pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, where he had a 45-minute massage for NT$2,700.
If Kuan went there every week, he would have spent NT$390,000 a year there, Tung said.
In the video, Kuan’s official vehicle was seen arriving in front of a building at 5:05pm. At 6:04pm, the vehicle was seen again in the same spot, with his bodyguards getting out of the car and going over to talk to Kuan when he came out of the building.
Tung alleged that Kuan went to the parlor regularly during the past six months and that he had confirmed through a telephone conversation he had with someone in the parlor that Kuan usually arrived at about 5pm.
He demanded that Kuan explain how long he had been “skipping work” to “enjoy pricy massages” while most public officials were still at work.
“Is it even a legitimate business? There’s no sign outside the building stating that it’s a massage parlor,” Tung said.
“While Kuan blamed others, he was actually the one who has spoiled the image of civil servants,” Tung added.
He was referring to a recent speech by Kuan, who said that public servants had been humiliated and their dignity stamped on by the DPP making an issue of the year-end pension bonuses for government retirees.
Responding to the allegations, Kuan promised to “humbly reflect on” and improve his behavior, but added that he had a clear conscience that he was doing the job he was paid to do.
As a politically appointed official, Kuan said he is not subject to the 9am to 5pm working hours for non-political appointees.
“For politically appointed officials, there are no fixed working hours. I work late at night and have official functions to attend on holidays. The time I spend on work is by no means less than others. I don’t skip work,” Kuan said.
Kuan said he began going to the place not for massage, but for “physical therapy” when he fell ill in the second half of last year because of some family incidents — presumably referring to the death of his daughter, who committed suicide in May last year.
“The treatment is not available after 6pm. I tried my best to be there between 5 and 6pm, about one or twice a week. And I did not go there every week,” Kuan said.
He said he stopped receiving therapy five months ago.