Thu, Oct 02, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Interior minister in more hot water over abalone meal

EXPENSIVE TASTES A Chinese-language tabloid alleges that Yu Cheng-hsien had a NT$50,000 meal paid for by business contacts

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the dust yet to settle on Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien's (余政憲) alleged visit to illegal masseuses, the minister raised more eyebrows yesterday when a Chinese-language tabloid accused him splashing out on a NT$50,000 meal.

According to a magazine published yesterday, Yu was a customer at a restaurant in an up-market hotel in Kaohsiung where he ordered abalone, a delicacy that costs as much as NT$50,000 a dish.

Yu's office yesterday declined to comment on the report, which was based on anonymous sources.

Instead of paying for the meal himself, the report said that Yu had his business friends pick up the bill.

The magazine also alleged that Yu spent hours gambling in the hotel's presidential suit. Stakes at the hotel can be as much as NT$500,000 a night.

Other media yesterday criticized Yu for violating an agreement set down by Premier Yu Shyi-kun and signed by Cabinet officials which stipulates that Cabinet officials should lead a frugal life and avoid attending unnecessary social functions, accepting and sending of flowers and gifts.

Responding to Yu Cheng-hsien's alleged employment of two illegal masseuses, Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) yesterday said that the government's ethics department should complete the investigation of the matter in a few days.

"They've already wrapped up interviewing people concerned and will present a complete report to the premier very soon," Lin said. "We'll make public the result as soon as he makes his decision on the matter."

It is widely speculated that Yu Cheng-hsien may be spared from repercussions because he and his family down in Kaohsiung County enjoy close connections with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

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