Taipei Detention House Deputy Director Lee Ta-chu (李大竹) told a press conference yesterday that Financial Times (FT) reporter Robin Kwong had not been given permission to interview former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) last week.
Lee also apologized for the center’s negligence.
His statement came in response to questions over the center’s conduct after an interview with Chen appeared in the London-based newspaper on Monday.
Chen has been detained at the Tucheng (土城), Taipei County, center since late December. Kwong interviewed him in the presence of a prison guard.
Lee said regulations stipulate that reporters must apply to the detention center to interview a detainee, and interviews can only be conducted after official permission has been given and the detainee agrees to talk to reporters. Kwong had not done so, he said.
Chen told Kwong that he was innocent, adding that the case against him was a political witchhunt launched by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.
Government Information Office (GIO) Minister Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) accused the FT of deliberately defying Taiwan’s laws.
He said the Ministry of Justice was mulling how to punish the detention center, Chen and the newspaper.
“I regret [Kwong’s move]. Such a case is unbelievable. I believe international media outlets would pass their own judgment regarding whether [Chen] is really a democracy activist,” Su said.
“We will contact international media outlets and clarify things that are untrue and that may tarnish Taiwan’s image. We hope they will report correct information we provide to them,” he said.
KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅) said the justice ministry should punish officials at the detention center for neglecting their duties.
The GIO should also protest to the FT, he said.
“We should also investigate whether the reporter [wrote the story] because he took money from Chen Shui-bian,” Chiu said, calling for the government to make Kwong persona non grata.
KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) said Chen had “crossed the line.”
“Maybe next he would hold a book signing [at the center] or even call out [to talk shows],” the lawmaker said.
Meanwhile, Association of Taiwan Journalists president Leon Chuang (莊豐嘉) said if any blame was to be apportioned, it should be the considered the fault of Chen’s office for sneaking Kwong into the center without permission.
“Reporters everywhere are the same. We will do anything and everything to cover the news, especially from a detainee,” said Chuang, adding that Kwong was merely “doing his job.”
Chuang, however, said that by favoring the foreign media, Chen’s office had probably angered local reporters because it might indicate a mistrust of the Taiwanese press by Chen’s staff.
By granting an exclusive interview to the FT, Chen’s office might reap short-term benefits, but will end up paying for it in the long run, he said.
Max Hirsch, president of the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents Club, refused to comment on the matter yesterday. Kwong was unavailable for comment.
Cable channel Formosa TV reported that Kwong said the entire interview was set up by Chen’s office.
Chiang Chih-ming (江志銘), the secretary of Chen’s office, said the meeting should not be considered an official interview. The office agreed to set up the meeting because Kwong simply wanted to get to know Chen’s thoughts, he said.
“It was not an official interview or a news report. What the reporter did was merely publicize details of the question and answer session with Chen,” Chiang said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG AND AGENCIES
DOING ENOUGH? The HPA budgets NT$1.3 billion to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but has no separate budget to fight teen drinking, a doctor said The government should step up alcohol education and prevention efforts, and allocate more of the budget to it, doctors said on Friday, citing the high consumption of alcohol among Taiwanese adolescents. One out of four 12-to-17-year-olds has consumed alcohol, said Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology. The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) budgets NT$1.3 billion (US$43.9 million) annually to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but it has not allocated a separate budget for preventing teenage drinking or excessive alcohol use, Yen said. “There is no so-called ‘safe drinking level’ for minors,” because any amount consumed
The Fancy Frontier manga and anime expo held in Taipei over the weekend has sparked controversy, after a participant allegedly contravened the Act on Offenses Against Sexual Morality (妨害風化罪) by publicly exposing her private parts during a photo shoot. The two-day event opened at the Expo Dome at the Taipei Expo Park on Saturday, attracting numerous comic and anime creators, cosplayers, photographers and fans. Allegedly, a female cosplayer who was not wearing any underwear lifted up her skirt and revealed her private parts at an outdoor photography area near the venue. Event organizers said yesterday that to prevent indecent exposure, they have since
YOUNGEST PATIENT: Cases of botulism have been only sporadically reported over the past few years, with two in 2015, six in 2016 and none in the past three years The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported the nation’s first case of infant botulism this year, a four-month-old boy in northern Taiwan, as well as five new cases of Japanese encephalitis confirmed last week. The boy was introduced to homemade solid food in the middle of last month, but began to experience constipation and loss of appetite on June 23, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said, adding that he was taken to the hospital when he developed a fever and shortness of breath on June 25. In the hospital, the boy also experienced a rapid heartbeat, limb
The National Taiwan Museum’s Railway Department Park in Taipei is to open to the public today. The park in Datong District (大同) near the North Gate (北門, Beimen) is one of the museum’s four branches. During the Japanese colonial era, the site housed the railway department of the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan’s Bureau of Transportation. After World War II, it served as the headquarters for the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) for several decades. In 2007, it was listed as a national monument under the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法). At an opening ceremony yesterday, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung