Controversy surrounding a new investment project in Central America -- the "Jung Pang Project" -- a NT$7.5 billion (US$226 million) fund for Taiwanese businesspeople investing in the region could be attributed to media's misunderstandings, Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Pasuya Yao (姚文智) said on Sunday.
Yao, a member of President Chen Shui-bian's (
"He did not explain the project clearly during the interview. He only mentioned an amount -- US$250 million. So I misunderstood and thought that Taiwan's help in repairing part of the CA-9 highway was part of the project," Yao said.
Due to Yao's misunderstanding, the Chinese-language media filed stories back in Taipei that said Taiwan would be providing US$250 million to its diplomatic allies "annually." This in turn led pan-blue parties to complain that the government was wasting taxpayers' money in a bid to shore up weak diplomatic ties.
Yao admitted he made an error.
"I apologize for my misunderstanding. However, the confusion that I caused did not make Chen furious," Yao said.
He also blamed the media, under the pressure of Taipei deadlines, for not listening to Vice Premier Wu Rong-i's (
"The media operates hastily [without checking facts]," Yao said.
The GIO's poor performance in providing accurate information was also evident in stories filed by Central American media.
Last Thursday, when Chen was interviewed by Siglo Veintiuno, he said that US$17 million would be provided to broaden part of CA-9 highway that links Guatemala City and El Rancho.
In addition, Chen said, a special project has been proposed that would provide US$250 million in assistance to Taiwanese investing in the allies in the region. This second project was not included in documents prepared by the Presidential Office for Chen for the interview.
On Friday, Siglo Veiniuno reported that the US$250 million would be given to Guatemala only.
Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General James Huang (黃志芳) said the mistake had to be corrected because it might cause confusion among other allies, since most people in the region will be reading the Spanish-language news.