Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday issued an ultimatum to The Journalist (新新聞), demanding that the news weekly print an apology in four Chinese-language newspapers within five days for wrongfully accusing her of spreading rumors about an alleged extra-marital affair between then president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his interpreter.
Lu said she has been waiting for The Journalist to apologize since the Supreme Court ruled in her favor in April 2004.
"I don't want to wait any longer," she told a press conference. "Appeasement only breeds villains. I am left with no choice but to respect the law."
The court ordered The Journalist to clarify and admit that Lu did not call then editor-in-chief Yang Chao (楊照) to spread a rumor that Chen was having an affair with his then interpreter Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴). The court ordered Yang to publish a clarification on the front pages of Taiwan＊s major newspapers as well as broadcast it on the radio and TV for three days.
The dispute between The Journalist and Lu erupted in November 2000. Lu filed a civil suit on Dec. 21, 2000, demanding a formal apology from the magazine, saying the story had injured her reputation. The weekly has refused to offer an apology as per the court's orders. It requested a constitutional interpretation over Civil Code Article 195, which states that "one whose reputation is violated can request for appropriate punishment that's equivalent to reputation recovery."
The Council of Grand Justices last Friday ruled the article was not unconstitutional. Lu said she did not want any monetary compensation from the magazine. She declined to comment on whether she would accept a private apology from the magazine.
When asked what would be the next step if the magazine still ignored Lu's request, Lu's legal adviser Hong Guey-san said they would request an injunction so the court would ask the magazine to comply within a certain period of time. If the magazine still defied the court order, they would publish the apology on the magazine's behalf and seek payment from the weekly.
Chou Tien-rey (周天瑞), president of The Journalist, yesterday declined to comment.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER