A recent visit to China by National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi’s (蘇起) wife, Chen Yue-ching (陳月卿), has raised concerns about national security. The incident also marked an apparent about-face in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which previously was critical of the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government when public officials made contact with China, analysts said.
Chen raised eyebrows when she went to China to promote her new book last week. She told SETTV and TVBS reporters in Beijing there were no regulations preventing her from traveling. She said that while she could visit the US, Japan and Southeast Asia, it did not make sense to slap restrictions on trips to China.
Chen’s was not an isolated case.
Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung’s (江丙坤) son has a firm in China and his wife was a stakeholder in a restaurant contracted to serve Chinese tourists. Premier Liu Chao-shiuan’s (劉兆玄) brother has secured a NT$100 billion (US$2.94 billion) business deal in China and it was reported last month that National Palace Museum Director Chou Kung-shin (周�? owns property in China. Chou, who has been living in the employee dormitory since 1972, later admitted to the purchase of two apartments in Shanghai after she retired, adding that she has declared her overseas property to the Control Yuan after she was appointed to her current position last year.
While the Presidential Office rushed to Chen’s defense and said she had not broken the law, analysts panned the KMT for applying double standards.
Wang Szu-wei (王思為), a professor at Nanhua University, said that if a similar incident had involved a DPP official when the DPP was in power, the KMT would have been relentless, citing former NSC secretary?general Kang Ning-hsiang (康寧祥) as an example.
At the time, the KMT demanded that Kang step down after media reported the husband of Kang’s secretary had business ties with China. She resigned amid allegations of leaking classified information to Beijing. The KMT raised the issue of a breach of national security and demanded that Kang report to the legislature.
Wang said Su should explain himself to the public, adding that Su has disappeared from public view since he took office last May. Su’s wife may lack political sense, but if a seasoned politician like Su does too, it would be disastrous, Wang said.
Despite calls by others for regulations on the conduct of spouses and relatives of government officials, Wang said it was unnecessary to enact such legislation.
“What we are talking about here is not a legal issue, but a political issue, an ethical issue and basic common sense,” he said. “Even if no law exists on the matter, any person with basic judgment would know better.”
Institute for National Development executive director Leou Chia-feng (柳嘉峰), however, said he was in favor of enacting a law regulating the conduct of spouses or relatives of government officials involved in sensitive matters.
Wang said the problem with Chen’s trip was not whether it was legal or not, but rather one of public perception.
Because of the sensitivity of her husband’s work, Leou said, Chen should limit her personal activities.
“If they want to do the things normal people do, they should consider quitting their jobs,” he said.
Leou said that as the KMT used to criticize the DPP, it should apply the same standards and hold government officials accountable, especially those involved with sensitive matters such as cross-strait talks, national defense and foreign affairs.