Fri, Mar 07, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Cheng, `Next' exchange libel suits

By Tsai Ting-I  /  STAFF REPORTER

Next magazine and scandal-ridden Legislator Cheng Yu-cheng (鄭余鎮) swapped libel writs yesterday, one day after the paparazzi weekly published a story claiming the lawmaker is having yet another affair.

In its latest issue, published Wednesday, the Taiwan edition of the controversial Hong Kong magazine reported that Cheng has been having an affair with his new assistant, Hsu Hsio-jung (許秀榮), since the end of February.

The magazine carried pictures of Cheng visiting Hsu's apartment and sitting with her in her Mercedes Benz last Saturday and Sunday.

Cheng held a press conference on Wednesday, shortly after Next hit newsstands, to denounce the story and announce that he was filing a lawsuit against Next's editor in chief, Pei Wei (裴偉) and president Chang Chien-hong (張劍虹).

Cheng told reporters that Hsu is his bodyguard, not his lover.

Before filing his suit yesterday morning Cheng held a second press conference and announced that,"I will fight to demonstrate my innocence."

The magazine, in turn, filed a lawsuit against Cheng yesterday afternoon because of his statement during Wednesday's press conference that Next "had attempted to blackmail me by promising not to publish the story for in exchange for millions of dollars."

Pei Wei yesterday described Cheng's reaction as "ridiculous," saying the magazine has sufficient evidence to prove the veracity of its report.

"We never bargain over stories in our magazine. Cheng must take responsibility for his accusation of blackmail, which seriously damages our reputation," Pei said.

Cheng has been trying to repair his political reputation after after his much-publicized affair and reported marriage last year to Sophie Wang (王筱嬋), the then head of his legislative office.

Cheng missed two months of the last legislative session after he left for Los Angeles with Wang. He returned to Taipei in early November, saying that the affair was over and that he was ready to serve his country.

Cheng was expelled from the DPP for damaging the party's image because of the Wang affair.

Wang has stayed in the media spotlight by continuing to demand a reconciliation with Cheng, who is still married to his wife of more than 30 years, Lu Pei-ying (呂珮茵).

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