Sun, Mar 09, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Yu sees no need for Chien to step down

SCANDAL The premier came to the defense of Eugene Chien, saying he had no role in the decision-making that led to government offices aiding fugitive Andrew Wang

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新) doesn't need to step down over the notarization issue surrounding fugitive Andrew Wang (汪傳浦) following the resignation of a ministry official over the case, Premier Yu Shyi-kun said yesterday.

Yu came to Chien's defense yesterday after calls from PFP lawmakers on Friday for Chien to leave office over the issuance to Wang of notarization of a certificate of appointment by representative offices in Geneva and London.

The notarization allowed Wang to appoint attorney Chang Nai-lain (張迺良) to file a libel suit in Taiwan on his behalf against national policy adviser Hsieh Tsung-min (謝聰敏) and a China Times reporter.

Yu said the issuance of the paper by the Geneva office in July 2001 and the London office just last month was unrelated to any core decision-making within the ministry.

Now that Chan Hsien-ching (詹憲卿), director-general of the ministry's Bureau of Consular Affairs, had resigned over the issue, there's no need to discuss whether Chien should leave, Yu said.

The premier also said he believes Chien is "100 percent unrelated" to the US$2.8 billion purchase of six Lafayette-class frigates from France in 1991.

As the premier on Friday appointed Minister without Portfolio Hsu Chih-hsiung (許志雄) to lead the investigation into the notarization issue, Hsu said the focus won't be the alleged ties between Wang and Chien.

"We'll investigate whether there's been any pitfall or negligence of duty on the part of the foreign ministry surrounding the issuing of notarization to Andrew Wang," Hsu said.

The other two members of the team are Lee Jo-1 (李若一), deputy director-general of the Cabinet-level Central Personnel Administration, and Vice Minister of Justice Hsieh Wen-ting (謝文定).

Wang has been wanted since September 2000 in connection with the December 1993 murder of navy Captain Yin Ching-feng (尹清楓).

"He [Chien] has admitted to knowing Wang in person. But such an acquaintance itself isn't a problem," Hsu said.

PFP Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) has claimed that ties between Wang and Chien paved the way for the speedy issuance of the legal document to Wang by the London office on Feb. 5, a claim Chien vehemently denies.

Chien has appointed lawyer Ku Li-hsiung (顧立雄) to send letters to Lee and military analyst Chang Yu-hua (張友驊), "by Monday at the latest," demanding their formal apologies within three days, a source close to Chien said on condition of anonymity.

If no apologies are forthcoming, Chien will file suit against them for defamation, the source said.

"We've also received phone calls ... offering sympathy and encouragement," the source said.

Chang has said the former arms dealer had told him in person more than 10 years ago that he once paid what he termed "miscellaneous expenses" for Chien's office when he was a lawmaker in the 1980s.

"I won't apologize," Chang said, insisting Wang mentioned his ties with Chien during a casual conversation more than a decade ago.

Chang said he has never stated that Chien was linked to lobbying in the Lafayette case.

"I'll see him in court. In fact, I'll ... file a suit against him for defamation," Chang said.

The ministry announced last week the cancellation of the notarization, claiming its issuance was not in Taiwan's national interest, just one day after officials said the notarization was legally justifiable.

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