Sun, Nov 23, 2003 - Page 3 News List

University tried to bribe officials, legislator says

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The legislature blocked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' proposal to continue financial aid for the St. John's University in New York last week because of the university's attempts to bribe Taiwanese officials, a legislator said yesterday.

As former Minister of Foreign Affairs Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂) decided to terminate financial packages to the university, Cecilia Chang (章曙彤), vice president of the university, had tried to lobby Taiwanese officials to continue the aid, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said.

Tien, during his term as minister, decided that the ministry's aid to the university would terminate at the end of this year. In order to persuade the ministry to continue the aid, Chang had attempted to bribe ministry officials and members of the legislature's Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Committee, which reviewed the ministry's budget proposals, Hsiao, a committee member, said.

On July 8, Chang wrote a letter to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Kao Yu-jen (高育仁), asking Kao to help lobby Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau (高英茂) to maintain the aid. Kao Yu-jen showed Chang's letter to Kau, a firm opponent of financial packages to the university. According to Hsiao, Chang, in order to obtain Michael Kau's support for the aid, said in the letter she would give the vice minister the amount of money he wanted. Chang also gave Hsiao and other committee members luxurious pens, which the legislators rejected to accept.

During the committee's legislative session to review the ministry's budget proposals last week, Kau described Chang's letter as "humiliating" and said he already gave the letter to investigation units.

Hsiao vigorously opposed the ministry's proposal to continue aid to St. John's.

The ministry has been giving financial packages to some US universities for the purpose of academic cooperation. Over the past 20 years, St. John's has received some US$8 million from the Taiwanese government, the largest sum a US university has ever obtained, Hsiao said.

Responding to Hsiao's allegation and the failed proposal to continue aid to St. John's, Chang said she would take legal actions against the "blackmailers."

Kau was in Kaohsiung on family business yesterday and could not be reached for comment. Kao is in Japan and could also not be reached. The ministry declined to comment on the "controversial issue."

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