Director-General of the Department of Health (DOH) Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) yesterday apologized to People First Party (PFP) Legislator Kao Ming-chien (高明見) for rejecting Kao as a Taiwanese delegate to June's World Health Organization conference.
Kao's invitation to the WHO's anti-SARS conference generated controversy over whether he had been invited at the recommendation of China. This led to accusations in the media and in the corridors of power that he had betrayed Taiwan.
Kao revived the issue again yesterday at a PFP-hosted breakfast, to which Chen had been invited to report on the financial status of the National Health Insurance.
Kao said that Chen had stripped him of his right to represent the DOH at the WHO conference and instigated the subsequent attacks on his motives for attending.
Chen responded by saying that the DOH had recommended four medical experts to attend the WHO anti-SARS conference at the time, but that Kao was not on the list.
"When questioned by reporters as to whether someone not on the list could represent the DOH at the conference, I naturally had to say no," Chen said.
Chen said that Kao was a senior colleague in the field and that he regretted the difficulties the situation had brought Kao.
Chen's apology came after the Examination Yuan's Lin Chiu-san (林秋山) relayed the results of an investigation into the issue.
Lin said that the invitation Kao had received had been no different from those received by the other four delegates and that Kao could not have known if he had been invited at China's recommendation.
At the time, the four DOH-recommended delegates had protested the WHO's initial invitation because it had placed their titles under the People's Republic of China, while Kao had purportedly accepted the invitation.