Fri, Jun 15, 2007 - Page 2 News List

MOE says `saucy' text message was the work of hackers

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

A text message laced with sexual innuendo sent out to reporters on Wednesday from an education ministry spokesperson's mobile phone was the work of "hackers," Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) said, while a ministry spokeswoman yesterday offered a different explanation for the flap.

Sent out to the education ministry press corps at 11am on Wednesday, the syrupy missive told "Dear" that "I love you forever and ever" and instructed the intended receiver "to book a room."

"I'm preparing to head out now; remember to send me text messages," the message gushed. "I'll be in touch ... I miss you!"

The message had been sent out by hackers, Tu claimed on Wednesday amid rumors that its timing and content were linked to his trip to Canada. The minister left for Canada yesterday to promote bilateral educational programs and cultural ties.

"Oversights in our telecommunications," Tu told reporters, "will be given more attention in the future."

Ministry spokeswoman Sophia Chou (周莎菲), however, offered a different version yesterday of how the message had found its way to reporters.

"That was a message that [Tu's] secretary mistakenly sent out just before leaving with the minister on the trip," Chou said by telephone.

The message was intended for the sender's "family," she said.

Asked what "book[ing] a room" referred to, Chou said: "We have no idea what that was about."

The education ministry has a reputation for sending out bizarre messages through official channels. In March, a retired Tamkang University instructor won a lawsuit against the ministry after receiving a vulgar e-mail from Tu's address three years ago.

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