Sun, Aug 18, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Cheng professes love for aide, admits to illegitimate child

NO TURNING BACK DPP Lawmaker Cheng Yu-chen said nothing would come between him and his lover, Sophie Wang, despite requests from his wife to return

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP legislator Cheng Yu-chen, center, accompanied by his mistress, Sophie Wang, right, and his lawyer, Chiu Chang, yesterday hold a press conference in Los Angeles, stressing that his marriage with Wang in Las Vegas was legal.

PHOTO: CNA

DPP lawmaker Cheng Yu-chen (鄭余鎮), who has eloped with a female aide to the US, called a news conference yesterday to beg people in Taiwan to bless his new-found love, which he vowed to preserve at all costs.

He reiterated his intent to divorce his wife and admitted fathering an illegitimate daughter with another woman two decades ago.

Cheng's estranged wife, Lu Pei-ying (呂珮茵), later tearfully requested that her husband return home quickly. She would not comment on the divorce request but pointed out that the lawmaker may be guilty of bigamy.

Cheng, whose triangular romance has drawn a lot of media attention, took a deep bow in an apologetic gesture during a news conference in Los Angeles but insisted he would not part with his assistant, Sophie Wang (王筱嬋).

"I'm sorry my [romantic] affair has caused such a stir in Taiwan," said Cheng, flanked by Wang and his lawyer, Chiu Chang (邱彰). "I was like a drifter until I met Sophie. I will spend the rest of my life with her and hope the public will understand and wish us the best."

Cheng said he would quit the DPP and even resign as a lawmaker if his party and supporters found his decision unacceptable.

"I'm willing to withdraw from the party's caucus to take responsibility for my extramarital affair," he told reporters. "If this is not enough, I'm willing to quit the party and resign as a legislator."

Several people have reportedly phoned his Taipei office to condemn his "irresponsible" behavior and express sympathy for his wife.

Cheng, 56, said that since he turned 50, he no longer harbors ambitions of any kind. Calling himself crushed and disgraceful, he added he would not return to Taiwan until he obtains a divorce.

"As an old saying goes, a man must mend his household before seeking to serve his country. I don't have the nerve to face my constituents unless I put a end to this mess," the lawmaker said.

He conceded he lied about his marital status when he married Wang on July 2 in Las Vegas and that he would shoulder any legal consequences.

"I uphold the principle of monogamy," Cheng said. "So I plead that Lu will divorce me, as I love Wang and intend to go through any legal procedures to be with her."

His lawyer cited Nevada codes as saying that anyone who resides in the US state for six weeks may seek a divorce in local courts. She argued that Cheng's second marriage, conducted without an open wedding ceremony, would not be recognized in Taiwan and therefore Cheng could not be prosecuted.

Cheng broke into tears when a reporter read a letter from his daughter urging him to come home.

He expressed grave regrets that his other family members had been dragged into the matter but hoped they would be strong and independent.

"Be strong and more useful than your dad and take care of your mom," Cheng said. He and Lu had one son and one daughter during their 30-year marriage.

The lawmaker did not deny that he fathered another daughter out of wedlock more than 20 years ago and that he sought a divorce at that time.

"This time I will not relent, now that I have found my true love," Cheng said.

His emotional revelations drew a tearful reply from his first wife, who read out a letter to Cheng during a news conference in Taipei two hours later.

In the letter Lu said she had not seen her husband for a long time and that she didn't even know how to contact him.

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