Fri, Aug 16, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Ministry under fire over Lu's failed trip to Jakarta

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers of all stripes yesterday criticized the government for failing to avert Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) humiliating treatment in Indonesia and being slow in coming to her rescue.

Some urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to punish inept and negligent officials while others suggested Lu immediately return to the country in a show of indignation.

Legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said he regretted Lu's predicament in Indonesia Wednesday and that the premature exposure of her surprise visit contributed to the latest diplomatic blunder.

The vice president was stranded in Jakarta's international airport for two hours as the Indonesian government, bowing to pressure from China, denied her entry to its capital. Lu had to fly on to the popular resort island of Bali instead.

"No doubt Beijing is to blame for relentlessly suppressing Taiwan's diplomatic space, but authorities at home should also launch a probe into the leak," Wang told reporters.

Extensive media reports on the eve of Lu's visit were believed to have helped spoil her plan to break Chinese isolation by making a surprise trip to the Southeast Asian neighbor.

DPP legislative leader Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the government indeed needed to reduce the amount of information leaked, though he was sympathetic to the challenges facing its diplomatic wing.

He said the vice president originally hoped to make diplomatic inroads during her visit there but the plan foundered after Beijing lodged strong protests with Jakarta. Indonesia has no diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

"Beijing's intimidating tactics are deplorable," Ker said. "In the meantime, the government [here] is apparently wanting in its ability to protect secret information."

While Wang and Ker shied away from naming the culprit, TSU Legislator Wang Cheng-chung (王政中) placed blame squarely on the foreign ministry.

In a press statement, the lawmaker panned the ministry and its Indonesian representatives for being slow in dealing with the diplomatic incident.

He said that diplomats based in Jakarta failed to come to Lu's aid until hours after the vice president landed in the country.

"This and earlier diplomatic setbacks show that the ministry is in serious need of reform," he said, naming one of the setbacks as the loss of diplomatic ties with the Pacific island-state of Nauru.

The lawmaker pressed the ministry to conduct a sweeping review of its intelligence-gathering and decision-making units and sack inept and negligent staffers without delay.

"The existence of insensitive and incompetent officials is more disappointing than China's diplomatic strangulation," he said.

Sharing the rage, the KMT's legislative caucus suggested the vice president return home immediately to protest the humiliating treatment.

"The whole incident is unbelievable," KMT lawmaker Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) said. "Lu, who obtained her visa beforehand, should not have been denied entry. I've never heard of anything like this. The foreign ministry is unforgivable."

He called on Lu to cut short her vacation in a gesture of protest against her predicament, which the legislator added has harmed the nation's dignity.

The vice president plans to stay in Indonesia for four days.

PFP legislative leader Shen Chih-hwei (沈智慧) agreed that Lu should fly home if her trip is further hampered.

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