Sun, Sep 18, 2005 - Page 3 News List

DPP lawmakers deny their trip was a bribe

BY JIMMY CHUANG  /  STAFF REPORTER

Several Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday said their recent trip to Laoag, Philippines, had nothing to do with taking bribes as independent Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) had accused them of on Friday.

"This is ridiculous," said DPP Legislator Lin Kuo-ching (林國慶). "It was a private trip for co-workers. We were trying to have some fun before the new [legislative] session began. Period. How can it be related to some sort of bribe?"

The episode began on Friday, when Chiu said that a group of 11 DPP lawmakers, led by party heavyweight Trong Chai (蔡同榮) and Yu Ching (尤清), had left Taipei on Sept. 13 for Laoag.

Chiu claimed this trip was actually a bribe by a Kaohsiung-based company -- Topao Group (多寶集團) -- to ensure DPP lawmakers' support for their attempt to run a casino business in Penghu in the future, as soon as gambling is legalized, as well as to support legalizing gambling on Taiwan's outlying islands.

According to Chiu, the DPP lawmakers stayed in Laoag for two days. On Sept. 15, Far Eastern Air Transport assigned one of its jetliners to fly to Laoag from Kaohsiung to fetch the lawmakers and bring them home.

Chiu said he had learned that the aircraft left without any passengers from Kaohsiung and its only mission was to pick up the DPP lawmakers in the Philippines.

"They were also the only 11 passengers on board from Laoag to Kaohsiung," Chiu said yesterday. "Who paid for this?"

According to Chiu, the Topao Group arranged the flight and allegedly paid for everything.

When approached on the matter, Far Eastern Air Transport confirmed that one of its aircraft had been assigned to fly to Laoag for some "very important guests" and all the fees had been settled by a travel agent.

Lin refuted Chiu's allegations and said that everybody, including himself, paid for their own trip.

"Chai invited everybody. It was that simple, and we did pay everything, including the tickets," Lin said. "It is so mean of Chiu to make such a boring accusation."

When he learned of Chiu's accusation, Chai said he would file a suit against Chiu.

"It was merely a trip enjoyed between colleagues. Chiu's comments are nonsense. I asked Formosa Television (FTV) to keep its footage of Chiu's remarks and I may use it as proof to sue him," Chai said.

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