Wed, Jul 28, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Representative to the UK questioned over Wang fiasco

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The country's representative to the UK, Tien Hung-mao, center, attends an investigation held by the Control Yuan yesterday.

PHOTO: YEH CHI-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Members of the government task force investigating issues surrounding the purchase of French-made frigates in the 1990s yesterday questioned Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂), the nation's representative to the UK, over his office's alleged mishandling of the issuance of a passport and authorization papers to a fugitive murder suspect's wife.

Tien and his subordinates were called upon to explain to the Control Yuan's task force how his office in London came to issue a passport and six authorization papers allowing real estate transfers to Yeh Hsiu-chen (葉秀貞), wife of Andrew Wang (汪傳浦), in March and May of this year respectively.

Wang, a former arms dealer, has been wanted since September 2000 in connection with the death of navy captain Yin Ching-feng (尹清楓) in December 1993.

Yin's death was allegedly linked to the sales of the French Lafayette-class frigates.

Arriving at the Control Yuan at 2:30pm, Tien, a former foreign minister, said only "thank you" to waiting reporters before entering a room where he answered questions from three Control Yuan members: Ma Yi-kung (馬以工), Lin Chiu-shan (林秋山) and Chao Jung-yao (趙榮耀).

Tien and former foreign minister Eugene Chien (簡又新) also faced questions as to why Taiwan's representative offices in Geneva and London issued a notarization of power of attorney to Wang in 2001 and last February, respectively.

Chien Kang-tan (錢剛鐔), director-general of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, told People First Party legislators that the National Police Agency once gave the ministry a list of Wang's family members and relatives, asking the country's overseas representative offices to keep an eye on these people.

However, Chien insisted, according to consular regulations, the London office had to issue Yeh a passport because she is not a wanted criminal.

Apologetic over the country's overseas representative offices' consistent negligence in issuing documents to Wang and his wife, the ministry announced yesterday that it has revoked Yeh's passport and the six authorization papers allowing her to transfer real estate.

Media outlets received a faxed statement with Wang's signature late Monday night. The fax, titled "Andrew Wang's Emergency Statement," did not show the number of the fax machine and left no contact number. So far, efforts to verify whether Wang wrote the statement have been fruitless.

The statement accused the government of attempting to "completely wipe out Wang's family," asserting that Wang's wife, as an ordinary Taiwanese citizen, has the right to apply for a new passport and authorization papers allowing her to transfer real estate.

"It is so hard for Taiwan to obtain advanced weapons. If an arms dealer can help Taiwan buy advanced weapons so that the country may upgrade its arms forces, why should the arms dealer be punished for making some money out of the purchase?" the statement said.

The ministry issued a statement last night after concluding its internal investigation. The report said that officials from the UK office's Bureau of Consular Affairs were responsible for issuing the documents, and that they must be held legally accountable for their error.

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