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Mon, Nov 20, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office against Lu filing suit

ADVISING CAUTION The Presidential Office hopes to take the spotlight off the president amid controversy over an alleged affair with one of his close aides

By Lin Chieh-yu and Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Presidential Office announced its decision yesterday to advise Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) against filing a lawsuit against The Journalist magazine (新新聞週報).

The magazine had claimed Lu started a rumor about President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) alleged involvement in an extramarital affair with his translator.

"To bring this case to court will only hurt the first lady and all the officials in the Presidential Office," a source from the Presidential Office said yesterday.

Chen conferred with his closest aides yesterday afternoon to deal with the crisis and most advocated avoiding legal measures to clear the vice president of blame.

"Some members suggest that the DPP should assign its legislative caucus, or urge the Control Yuan, to set up a task force to find the truth," sources said.

Chen accepted the majority opinion of his advisors and decided to ask Lu to stop her legal proceedings against The Journalist.

"You never know how complicated the situation may turn out to be, nor can you predict how wide the battlefield could turn out to be if the case were brought to court," one official said.

"What we can do at the moment is try to help the president stay away from the dispute. For the sake of the stability of the country, it is our last resort."

Sources also said their primary concern was to protect first lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) and Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) -- the translator involved in the controversy -- adding that if the case went to the courts, the scandal would remain in the media spotlight, which might further damage the credibility of the Presidential Office.

"The current standing of the Presidential Office is to maintain a low profile by not making any more comments ... in order to prevent any false interpretations or unnecessary friction," sources said.

Sources also revealed that Chen was trying to prevent Lu from personally handling the crisis.

The sources said, however, that Chen would not distance himself from Lu in the future, but rather give her more opportunities to participate in governmental affairs with him.

"Annette Lu will be invited to be present at the regular meetings attended by the closest aides of the president, to establish better communication channels," sources said.

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