Tue, Feb 17, 2004 - Page 2 News List

MECO accused of rape cover-up

SEX SCANDAL The International Labor Association said MECO helped Elmer Fung by getting his alleged victim to accept a settlement and return to the Philippines

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The International Labor Associa-tion yesterday accused the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei of colluding with former New Party legislator Elmer Fung (馮滬祥) in reaching an out-of-court settlement between him and a Filipina housekeeper whom Fung is accused of raping during the Lunar New Year holidays.

The association also accused MECO of colluding with Fung in sending her home.

According to the association, Fung raped the 25-year-old woman, identified only as Rose, whom he had hired to take care of his mother-in-law, on the afternoon of Jan. 23.

Association chairwoman Chen Su-hsiang (陳素香) said that after the incident, the woman turned to MECO for help, but the office put her in a temporary shelter and cut off all contact between her and the outside world.

"MECO officials, as well as Fung's wife and lawyer, told her that she had only two choices. One was to fight a legal battle, which they said could land her in jail if she lost. They said her second choice was to reach an out-of-court settlement, take the money, go home and start a new life," Chen said.

Rose chose to settle out of court and returned to the Philippines on Jan. 29.

Chen said the association learned about the case on Jan. 26 when Rose was already "under house arrest" by MECO and that she was sent home in such a short time that it could hardly do anything for her.

Chen questioned Fung's claim that it was a simple case of the housekeeper running away, saying "there wouldn't be any need for an out-of-court settlement then."

Chen said that the association had obtained a copy of the settlement and other evidence, which it will make public if Fung keeps lying to the public.

According to the Council of Labor Affairs, Rose was given NT$800,000 in the settlement.

The council said MECO reported the case and requested assistance on Jan. 27, but the woman returned home on Jan. 29 and no contact with her was allowed.

Chen also criticized Taipei City's labor affairs bureau for not intervening in the matter.

Fung, who returned from China yesterday, said the rape allegation was an underhanded tactic employed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to prevent him from campaigning for the pan-blue camp.

He said that the settlement money was the salary for the two years that Rose did not finish working for his family.

Feeling sorry that the maid had been manipulated by others and knowing that she already regretted what she had done, Fung and his wife thus agreed to give her the money, Fung said, without clarifying his statements.

Fung said he was ready to protest against the New Party's suspension of his membership over the rape allegations and to sue Chen as well as an unspecified newspaper he accused of misleading the public regarding the case.

MECO defended its handling of the case yesterday, arguing that the woman chose to fly home as soon as possible rather than sue Fung.

In a statement, MECO said that it had received a phone call from the woman on Jan. 23, in which she complained that she had been sexually attacked by her employer.

MECO said a staffer immediately took the woman to MacKay Memorial Hospital for treatment before filing a complaint with the Chungshan Police Station.

The woman was then lodged by MECO pending the legal process and the office retained a lawyer specializing in industrial disputes to inform the woman about her legal rights.

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