Sun, Aug 11, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Ex-basketball ace struggles to keep his marriage going

IN THE LIMELIGHT Freshman PFP Legislator Cheng Chih-lung is now making headlines off the court for his alleged infidelity, which is straining ties with his wife

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

PFP lawmaker Chen Chih-lung, left, says he fell in love with his wife, Lu Tsu-ying, right, when they first met at a bar 12 years ago.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

Once famous for his exploits on the basketball court, PFP Legislator Cheng Chih-lung (鄭志龍) is now making headlines for his increasingly public love life.

On July 24, his wife, Lu Tsu-ying (呂祖穎), issued an open letter to the media saying she wanted a divorce following reports that he had an affair with independent Aboriginal lawmaker May Chin (金素梅). Chin, formerly an actress, denied the reports.

"Ah-lung and I worked very hard to manage our marriage and family, because we didn't want our children to walk down the same road that we've been through before. I feel very sad and helpless now that things are going against our wishes," Lu said in the letter.

Lu later relented, after Cheng begged for her forgiveness, and decided to give her husband another chance for the sake of their children.

Previous infidelity

Cheng is reported to have had four previous affairs, and a family friend said the onus is on the former basketball star to hold his 12-year-old marriage together.

"It is now up to Cheng to decide whether the acrimony in his marriage will end," said PFP Legislator Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄), who mediated between Cheng and his wife.

Cheng, 33, was already a popular idol for many Taiwanese teenagers, especially his female fans, when he joined the national basketball team at the age of 17.

But despite the attention, Cheng said he fell in love with Lu the first time he met her at a pub 12 years ago.

Lu was initially cautious about getting involved with Cheng because of his flamboyant love life, but changed her mind when she got to know his family background.

Broken families

"Just like Ah-lung, I've never met my father and know nothing about him. The feeling of [growing up] without a father narrowed the distance between myself and Ah-lung," Lu said in the preface of Cheng's biography published in 1996.

Cheng's father is from the US, while his mother is an aborigine from the Ami tribe. The two met in Taiwan but never married, and his father returned to the US before Cheng was born.

In the biography, Cheng vowed to put his past behind him to give his own children a traditional family upbringing.

"The past is not important to me any more now that I have my own family. The most important thing is to take good care of my family and give my two sons complete love," Cheng says.

But temptation has continued to hound Cheng, even after his marriage.

Lu recalls in his biography's preface an occasion when she went to watch her husband play basketball in Panchiao, Taipei County.

"When we were walking hand in hand out of the stadium after the game, a beautiful, long-haired girl blocked our way and said: `Come, Ah-lung, let's go have afternoon tea together,'" Lu said.

Temptation

Before the alleged affair with May Chin, Cheng is reported to have succumbed to temptation several times.

The last time was four years ago, when Cheng reportedly lived with a female fan in Tamshui, Taipei County, prompting Lu to threaten Cheng with separation.

She later forgave Cheng, following mediation by their friends, and did not use the media to make her dissatisfaction known.

But her recent attempt to bring her husband's indiscretions into the open suggests Cheng has few chances left to save his marriage.

Over the past two weeks, Cheng has tried to mend the relationship with his wife and has gone on an overseas trip with his family.

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