Fri, Jan 16, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Impeached minister expresses regret over Papua scandal

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Former minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) expressed regret yesterday over his impeachment for a scandal involving a botched attempt to win Papua New Guinea as a diplomatic ally in which Taiwan was duped out of almost US$30 million.

In a statement, Huang said that because of the difficult situation faced by Taiwan in the international community, any bids to forge diplomatic relations with other countries carried “a high degree of risk” and that the government should not impose limits on its diplomatic work just because of such risks.

In this case, Huang said, he did not “blindly carry out” the mission entrusted to him by his superior, but opted to terminate the project after realizing that it could damage the nation’s interests.

After failing in an attempt to recover the funds, Huang took the initiative to inform the judicial authorities about the case, he said, adding that he was extremely sad about the damage the case had done to the country’s image.

In the scandal, two middlemen — Ching Chi-ju (金紀玖) and Wu Shih-tsai (吳思材) — who were commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2006 to help broker a deal for the establishment of diplomatic ties with Papua New Guinea, allegedly embezzled US$29.8 million intended as aid for the Pacific nation.

The project was initiated after former National Security Council secretary-general Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) introduced Ching, who claimed to maintain good connections with Papua New Guinean politicians, to Huang.

Ching has since fled to the US, while Wu has been detained since May and was indicted in September on charges of forgery.

The Control Yuan on Wednesday impeached Huang and Chiou as it concluded an investigation into the scandal.

The impeachments stated that dereliction of duty by Huang and Chiou was to blame for the loss of public funds and for the damage to the government’s image.

Huang and Chiou are still the subject of an investigation by prosecutors.

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