Tue, Jul 27, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Mark Chen grills Tien over passport

NEGLIGENCE The nation's British representative is being called to account by the foreign minister over his office's dealings with the wife of fugitive Andrew Wang

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Foreign Minister Mark Chen, left, and Taiwan's representative to the UK, Tien Hung-mao, emerge from their meeting at the foreign ministry yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

The nation's top representative to Britain, Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂), met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) yesterday to explain how his office came to issue a passport to the wife of a fugitive criminal suspect.

Tien, a former foreign minister, and his subordinates in the UK office have come under attack for approving the passport application of Yeh Hsiu-chen (葉秀貞), wife of Andrew Wang (汪傳浦), an arms dealer wanted for questioning over the death of navy Captain Yin Ching-feng (尹清楓) in 1993.

After a closed-door meeting with Chen at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tien, who has tendered his resignation, told reporters: "The ministry has formed a task force to investigate the case. All our office can do now is to wait for the results of the investigation and accept them."

"The ministry is looking into the case. I would not offer any conclusions about the investigation. I hope you [the media] will not jump to any conclusions either," he said. "The ministry will carefully examine the case."

During his 90-minute meeting with Chen, Tien said he "offered sincere answers to all the questions Chen asked," and explained all the circumstances behind the issuing of the passport to Yeh.

Chen, who emerged from the meeting with Tien by his side, praised Tien for his "courage" in offering to resign but declined to say whether the ministry would accept the resignation.

"We must first clarify who is responsible for this negligence before deciding who should go," Chen said.

The possible roles of Tien and former foreign minister Eugene Chien (簡又新) in issuing the passport had forced Chen to convene an emergency press conference last Friday night. Chen vowed his ministry would look thoroughly into the matter.

INSTRUCTIONS

Tien, who returned to Taipei late on Sunday night, said on arrival at CKS International Airport that his office had issued Yeh a passport after obtaining instructions from the central government.

An earlier incident in February last year, in which the British office issued documents granting power of attorney to a lawyer for Wang in a libel lawsuit filed against national policy advisor Hsieh Tsung-min (謝聰敏) and a China Times reporter, also came under the scrutiny of the Control Yuan yesterday.

Control Yuan members Ma Yi-kung (馬以工) and Lin Chiu-shan (林秋山) held a press conference yesterday to report that Wang's signatures on application forms for the notarization papers might have been forged.

They said the Control Yuan's special task force investigating the tainted purchase of French Lafayette-class frigates in the early 1990s will require the ministry to surrender all documents Wang supposedly signed that are held by the British office.

The issuing of those notarization papers has been described as the British office's first serious lapse. The office issued the papers to Wang on Feb. 5 last year. Wang was required to sign one of the documents in person at the office. On May 9 last year, the task force demanded the office send that document to investigators to check whether the signature was genuine.

The office provided investigators with some documents that Wang had supposedly signed but also claimed that Wang had taken the document he signed at the office away with him.

collusion

Control Yuan member and task force convenor Chao Jung-yao (趙榮耀) said the British office's consistent negligence in issuing papers or passports to Wang and Yeh indicated that some government officials may have been colluding with him.

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