Sat, Aug 05, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma says he won't let controversial spokeswoman quit

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday confirmed that party spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文) had offered to resign after recent questions over her integrity, but said that he refused to accept her resignation.

Cheng submitted her resignation to Ma on Wednesday night amid criticism from the pan-green camp that Ma had turned a blind eye while Cheng was living in a rent-free apartment provided by business tycoon Chou Hsin-yi (周信義) over the past two years.

Ma said that although he had not been notified of Cheng's decision on Wednesday night, he did accept her letter of resignation.

"I will ask her to stay. I want her to stay, because there's no reason for her to quit the job now," he said before presiding over a municipal meeting at Taipei City Hall.

Cheng has denied ever doing Chou any favors in return for his patronage after the Chinese-language Next magazine exposed the issue and questioned her integrity.

The KMT's Evaluation and Discipline Committee had suggested that Cheng move out of the apartment, even thought it ruled that there was nothing wrong with her living there. Cheng promised to find new accommodation within a month and took a few days' leave last week in order to move out.

Ma said yesterday that Cheng has already moved into a new place, and that there was consequently no reason for her to leave the KMT, as the party needed her help to promote membership diversity.

Cheng was not available for comment last night, and her cellphone remained turned off until press time.

KMT Deputy Spokesman Huang Yu-cheng (黃玉振) said Cheng was expected to return to work on Monday.

In her resignation statement to Ma, Cheng said: "As the KMT spokeswoman, I allowed myself to fall into the dirty game between ruling and opposition parties ... But I should've demanded higher standards of myself."

"In democratic politics, no one is irreplaceable. I am nothing but a small part. ... I still believe that Chairman Ma's resolve to reform the party is 100 percent. We are serious," she said.

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