Tue, May 03, 2016 - Page 1 News List

MOFA ‘positive’ on Malaysian apology

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Javier Hou speaks to the media at the legislature in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Javier Hou (侯清山) yesterday said the ministry takes a positive view of an apology issued by the Malaysian prime minister’s special envoy to east Asia Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing over his nation’s deportation of 32 Taiwanese fraud suspects to Beijing.

“Tiong made the apology yesterday [Sunday] and said he was also astonished by such a procedure. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs feels positively about Tiong’s remarks,” Hou said on the sidelines of a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee in Taipei.

Hou was responding to media queries regarding Tiong’s remarks, made in an interview with the Central News Agency in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, during which the Malaysian politician said it is customary for his government to deport foreign suspects to their home nations.

Tiong said in the interview that he had no prior knowledge of the deportation of the 32 Taiwanese to China on Saturday and that he was “astonished and disappointed” by the incident.

He then apologized and pledged to help rectify the situation in his capacity as the prime minister’s special envoy to East Asia.

The 32 Taiwanese were among a group of 52 Taiwanese arrested in Malaysia last month on suspicion of participating in a telecoms fraud.

The other 20 suspects were sent back to Taiwan on April 15 at Taipei’s request, but were released shortly afterward due to a lack of evidence.

Nevertheless, prosecutors on April 21 detained 18 of the suspects incommunicado and restricted the remaining two suspects from leaving the nation.

Turning to the government’s deployment of two patrol vessels on Sunday on a month-long mission to protect Taiwanese fishermen operating in international waters near the Okinotori atoll, Hou said the government would continue to try to handle situations at sea with discretion and to prevent them from escalating into conflicts.

“We urge both parties to resort to peaceful means to address the issue,” Hou said.

Asked how the two patrol boats would respond in the event of an attack from Japanese coast guard vessels, such as by water cannons, Hou said he would not answer hypothetical questions and reiterated his hopes for a peaceful resolution.

The deployment of the two patrol vessels came amid growing tensions between Taipei and Tokyo over the latter’s confiscation of a Taiwanese fishing boat, the Tung Sheng Chi No. 16, about 150 nautical miles (277.8km) east-southeast of the uninhabited atoll on Monday last week.

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