Wed, Mar 20, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Tsung ducks limelight as hiring controversy grows

EVIDENCE OF LYING Still the center of opposition attacks, Christine Tsung faced new evidence yesterday she lied about her new `director to the minister's office'

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Economic Affairs Christine Tsung (宗才怡), accused by an opposition lawmaker on Monday of lying about her hiring of a "director" for her office, was absent from office because of a heavy cold yesterday.

Meanwhile, Chen Wei-ti (陳韋迪), a counselor who serves concurrently as "director" to the minister's office -- who has tendered his resignation in the aftermath of the dispute -- said he would consider Tsung's request for him to stay.

The dispute began in the legislature on Monday when PFP lawmaker Chiu Yi (邱毅) asked Tsung if there was any such position as "director to the minister's office." Tsung replied with a "no."

After showing Chen's name card on Monday, Chiu presented new evidence yesterday suggesting that Tsung had been lying.

The PFP lawmaker said that Tsung and Chen had visited him on March 12 and Tsung introduced Chen as the "director" of her office.

Denying the accusation, Chen said that Tsung only introduced him as a "counselor" and had not referred to him as a "director" of her office.

On Monday, Chiu blasted Chen for demanding that an official car be provided by the ministry, profaning reporters and styling himself as the "underground minister."

But Tsung at first spoke in defense of Chen. Tsung said Chen did not have an official car and challenged Chiu to present evidence to back up his allegations.

Tsung, however, promised she would investigate the matter.

The minister said Chen should apologize if the PFP lawmaker's allegations were proven to be true, and "those twisting the facts" should apologize if the allegations were proven false.

Chiu later showed Chen's name card, on which the title of "counselor and director of the minister's office" was clearly printed, and asked Tsung why she lied.

Without giving a direct answer, Tsung said she could not understand why the PFP lawmaker would direct such attacks toward a "person who loves Taiwan."

The minister said Chen had performed well and "had an official car" when he worked for the Ministry of the Interior in the past.

Tendering his resignation yesterday afternoon, Chen admitted that he had asked for the title of "director of the minister's office" to be printed on his name cards.

Chen also admitted that he did have an official car and a chauffeur.

Chen used to be a public relations officer for the Ministry of the Interior.

Chen had run for the National Assembly and in legislative elections before, but failed in both bids.

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