Thu, Jan 12, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Official denies sexually harassing two legislative aides

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A transportation official who has been demoted for allegedly sexually harassing two legislative assistants yesterday dismissed the allegations.

Liao Yuan-lung (廖源隆), director of the Department of the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, yesterday flew to Taipei to offer his side of the story.

Although Liao acknowledged that he had struck an assistant of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩) on the forehead and slapped the other assistant on the face on Dec. 29, he said it was done as a "punishment" for their losses during a drinking game they were playing.

"But I let them hit me back," he said.

Liao, however, denied that he had touched the assistants on the breasts when the group returned from their gathering to the legislature afterward.

Liao said he felt sorry about what happened, and had reported the matter to his supervisor and personally apologized to both Chen and her two assistants.

Chang Hung-ruei (張宏睿), an assistant to DPP Legislator Lee Chen-nan (李鎮楠), said that Liao drank too much that night and therefore had done some "impolite" things to Chen's two assistants, such as hitting them on the head.

He, however, said he had not seen Liao touch them on the breasts and that Chen had been the one to bring the liquor that night.

Chen called Chang a liar and asked Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Walis Pelin (瓦歷斯貝林), who she said was the person who brought alcohol to the gathering that night, to give an account of the matter.

Chen also alleged that Liao has a long history of sexually harassing women and tearfully requested that the ministry dismiss Liao rather than demoting him.

"It is meaningless for him to offer an apology now," Chen said. "He apologizes only because of public pressure ... My assistants are here to do business for me, not to drink or play drinking games with you."

One of Chen's assistants, surnamed Wang, who was on leave yesterday, told the media by phone that she was angry when she saw the TV broadcast of Liao's press conference.

"He never apologized to us as he claimed," she said. "Although he came to our office, he left when we told him that she [Chen] was out."

Two DPP lawmakers lambasted Liao, with Tsai Chi-fang (蔡啟芳) calling him an "animal" and Lin Chung-mo (林重謨) saying that he would ask Liao to kneel down in front of the legislative compound for two days and two nights for his "disgusting behavior."

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) during the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday requested the ministry "take immediate action."

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san (林陵三) responded by saying that Liao was told on Tuesday that he would be demoted and that the ministry will further probe the sexual harassment allegation.

Meanwhile, the legislative assistants' union held an emergency meeting yesterday and decided to set up a 24-hour hotline for legislative assistants. They also encouraged those who have been sexually harassed by lawmakers or officials to come forward and report any incident.

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