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Wed, Nov 15, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Rumors of Chen affair stir lawmakers

TAIWAN'S LEWINSKY?A newly released book suggests President Chen Shui-bian is having an office tryst with his translator, a charge aides described as 'despicable'

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers called the president's credibility into question yesterday after a newly released book suggested that an office tryst similar to the Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton affair was taking place in the Presidential Office.

But officials from the Presidential Office were quick to defend President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday, calling the allegations despicable, denying that Chen was having an affair with Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), the president's translator.

During the national affairs forum at the legislature yesterday, KMT Legislator Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) cited paragraphs from the book Tang Fei -- in a Critical Era, written by Chou Yu-kou (周玉蔻). In the book, Chou suggests that a Taipei version of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair is taking place in the Presidential Office.

Although Liu acknowledged that the information has not been substantiated, the allegation has damaged the president's reputation nonetheless, the lawmaker claimed.

People First Party lawmaker Chen Chao-jung (陳朝容) said that Hsiao's employment in the Presidential Office may be endangering national security. The lawmaker noted that Hsiao's ex-boyfriend formerly worked as a translator for China's late leader, Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平).

If the ex-boyfriend is still working for Beijing, Chen said, that could be cause for concern.

But Hsiao dismissed the rumors and the lawmakers' concerns yesterday, saying she had been targeted because she is a successful woman.

"As long as a woman is somewhat accomplished in her career, people will say [her achievements] have been gained by means of a physical relationship with others. This is upsetting," Hsiao said.

Hsiao said she was loyal to Taiwan, and that her relationship with her ex-boyfriend had ended years ago.

Chen, for his part, declined to comment on the allegations, sternly refusing media questions on the subject during a visit to an incinerator in Kaohsiung County yesterday.

Yu Shyi-kun, secretary-general to the Presidential Office, called the allegations a disgraceful way to slander the name of the president, or anybody else, for that matter.

DPP Secretary-General Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁) said the "baseless" accusation wouldn't affect the public's view of Chen, and that the charges would only leave the public with a bitter taste for politics and those who repeat the allegations.

Another official from the Presidential Office, who declined to be identified, said that the opposition's rumor-mongering was intended to discredit the president's leadership and decision-making process.

"Since Chen took office, the criticism has been focused on Chen's excessive reliance on a group of young aides, all of whom are in their early 30s and have been working for Chen since he was the mayor of Taipei," the source said.

The allegations "are merely another wave in an attack [on the president] because Hsiao happens to be a brilliant and charming woman, who works closely with Chen."

President Chen himself did not respond to the rumor yesterday.

Chou herself was involved in a sex scandal in early 1998 when she claimed that both she and another socialite had had adulterous affairs with Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交), a former Taiwan Provincial Government spokesman, now a People First Party legislator.

Hwang allegedly persuaded both women to have abortions when they each became pregnant.

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