Sun, Aug 04, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Newsmakers: DPP legislator sidestepping problems in his private life

TOUGH TIMES Cheng Yu-chen has been plagued by allegations that he had an affair with an aide after his estranged wife unexpectedly began working in his office

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP Legislator Cheng Yu-chen, in and out of the legislature since 1980, has been evading questions about his private life.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

Little known outside of political circles, DPP Legislator Cheng Yu-chen (鄭余鎮) has recently made headlines as a gossip-hungry media try to pry into his alleged affair with a female aide.

Laconic and low-key, Cheng has played hide-and-seek with friends and reporters over the past week, wistfully thinking that the uproar would soon die down on its own.

"I hope the media will quit focusing on the issue. It is purely personal," he said in a brief statement issued Thursday evening. The lawmaker had planned to hold a news conference that afternoon but called it off without an explanation.

His alleged relationship with his aide drew intensive media attention Tuesday when Cheng's wife, Lu Pei-ying (呂珮茵), unexpectedly appeared in her husband's legislative office, saying that she wanted to help serve his constituents.

`Stoic sufferer'

It is said that Lu, acting on advice of family members, decided to stand up to Cheng's alleged mistress, Wang Hsiao-chan (王筱蟬), rather than play a "stoic sufferer."

"From now on, you can expect to see a lot of me," Lu told reporters. "No one asked me to. I made the decision myself."

She seated herself behind a small desk and answered phones while her husband was on a trip to China accompanied by Wang.

During a telephone interview, Wang criticized Lu as unqualified for the job and suggested the legislature's security guards block Lu's entry.

"Lu is not a registered worker and should not be allowed to enter the legislature," said Wang, whose romance with former presidential secretary-general John Chang (章孝嚴) put a temporary stop to the latter's political career in 1999.

Lu insists she is familiar with the tasks of the job, saying she has been helping Cheng since they got married 30 years ago.

Chang Sheng-chuan (章勝娟), another aide of Cheng's, said that she found Wang's criticism ridiculous. "Qualified or not, Lu has the right to visit her husband in the legislature. No pass is necessary."

And so the standoff between the two women shows no sign of ending.

Lu has continued to show up at the legislature, while her husband and Wang, who returned to Taipei on Wednesday, have stayed away.

Unfazed

Though the lawmaker denied having a romantic relationship with his aide, cameras outside of Wang's apartment building showed the two leaving and getting into into a white sedan on Thursday.

Cheng, unfazed by the gossip that he implied was fueled by family members who do not understand the situation, has said he will continue to employ Wang.

Friends and supporters, however, express apprehension that the extramarital affair may hurt Cheng's political career.

Decade of misfortune

A native of Taipei County, Cheng, 56, whose family exerts significant influence in the Hsinchuang area, experienced a decade of political misfortune before making a comeback by winning a legislative seat last December.

In 1977, he was elected as Hsinchuang's town chief and later became the mayor of Hsinchuang when the district was upgraded to city status. In 1980, he won a legislative seat representing Taipei County and managed to win a second term three years later. During that time, Cheng did not belong to a political party.

Shih Ming-ching (施明進), one of Cheng's vote captains, said the lawmaker's alleged affair has harmed his image. He urged Cheng to sack Wang, saying that the controversy has alienated many of his supporters.

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