Representative to the US, King Pu-tsung (金溥聰), and Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) Press Division Director Frank Wang (王億) yesterday apologized over a controversial post on the Washington Post Web site, which describes Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) as “former Legislative Speaker.”
Frank Wang said Wang Jin-pyng was the “former Legislative Speaker” in the Washington Post Web site’s readers’ comments column on Sept. 14 and concluded by saying “I’m very glad the [Chinese Nationalist Party] KMT came to resolutely discipline its heavyweight party member.”
This triggered criticism from lawmakers that Frank Wang, as a diplomat, has violated the principle of neutrality. Both King and Frank Wang formally apologized in a press statement released by TECRO.
In the statement, King pointed out that he did not authorize Frank Wang to post the message, but admitted that, “there is negligence involved in the office’s handling of the issue.”
King went on to say that, while Frank Wang did report to the office about the posting, he “thought the contents would be the same as a letter to the editor to the Washington Post” and thus he “did not notice the contentious paragraph at the end of the article” and do something about it.
For this, King “would like to extend his apologies and make sure no similar incident would occur again in the future.”
In the second part of the same statement, Frank Wang also apologized for airing his personal views in the message.
Frank Wang explained that he was merely expressing his own views as an ordinary Internet user without revealing his official title in the message.
“Thus there were certainly personal emotions in the article,” he said.
However, he apologized and said he regretted any controversy his comment may have caused.
Minister of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) David Lin (林永樂) said that the ministry has stressed the need to strictly stand by the principle of administrative neutrality, but said that the ministry has yet to decide what to do about the incident.
“We have to look further into the matter to decide what to do,” he said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) accused King of lying when he said that he did not notice that online messages are different to a formal letter to the editor.
Brandishing a copy of the letter to the editor penned by Frank Wang provided by the ministry, Hsiao pointed out that, although in the original article, Frank Wang did not write that he was pleased that the KMT has gotten rid of Wang Jin-pyng, he did refer to Wang as “former Legislative Speaker.”
“King claims that he didn’t see mistakes in the online article, arguing that he thought it had the same content as the formal letter to the editor,” Hsiao said.
“Well, I’ve got the official copy of the letter to the editor in my hand and Frank Wang referred to Wang Jin-pyng as ‘former Legislative Speaker’ in the formal letter as well.”
Hsiao went on to call on the ministry to punish relevant personnel for the mistake, “otherwise how would you set example for other MOFA employees to follow?”
“When I asked Lin how he is going to handle the case, he said that he would speak with TECRO. Well, I want to remind him not to forget that he is the minister,” Hsiao said.