In his first appearance at the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee yesterday, Representative to the US King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) was confronted by lawmakers who seemed more interested in his sexual orientation than on the future of US-Taiwan relations, which many saw as a missed opportunity to discuss the state of relations with the nation’s main ally.
King, who assumed his duties in Washington on Dec. 1, was presenting a report on the prospects for US-Taiwan relations.
At the meeting, questions posed to King, a long-term right-hand man of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), were more focused on his role in shaping the Ma administration’s policies and his partisan character than on US-Taiwan relations.
King dodged most of the questions unrelated to his report, saying he always played whatever role he was asked to play, but refused to answer questions regarding the nature of his relationship with Ma.
In response to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井) asking him about his sexual orientation to “give you [King] a chance to clarify the matter,” King said he respected everyone no matter their sexual orientation, but said: “I am not [gay],” and that Ma and he were not in a relationship.
King said it was “unfair” that people have claimed that his political progress has been spurred along through sexual relationships, adding that the insinuation was also insulting to homosexuals.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) said he cared less about King’s relationship with Ma and more about Ma’s sexual orientation, asking King to answer him, to which King replied: “It’s not a question I should answer.”
King has been dubbed as a “behind-the-scenes fixer” and “underground president” by some DPP lawmakers who demand that King be held responsible for the “King and Ma system,” a term first coined by People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) to refer to what he believes is the strong influence King exerts over Ma.
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) demanded that King apologize for his “failure” to live up to promises in 2008 that he would not take any position in the Ma administration, for the decline in Taiwanese exports to China following the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, and for the poor governance of the “King and Ma system.”
The “King and Ma system” has ruined normal government functions, DPP Legislator Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said.
“Even a three-year-old child knows you play an important role in the administration ... you should stop avoiding questions,” Ker said.
Ker said that as Ma’s envoy in Washington, King had the important role of communicating with the US as the Ma administration prepares to embark on critical political talks with China on a peace accord.
When asked whether Taiwan would sign such a pact and build a mechanism to ensure military mutual trust, King said that he is not in a position to address these issues, which he said fall under the mandate of the Mainland Affairs Council.
DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) raised the issues of the US’ “pivot to Asia” and territorial disputes in the South China Sea and demanded that King answer her questions in English because she “wanted to know how King explained the nation’s positions on these issues to the US.”