Thu, Jul 22, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Ma's sister rejects story on influence peddling

By Ko Shu-ling, Flora Wang and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) eldest sister plans to sue Next Magazine over allegations she had used her influence to persuade a university chairman to hire her brother-in-law as school chancellor and to demand that a senior citizens’ house provide around-the-clock care for her mother-in-law.

Ma Yi-nan (馬以南) has entrusted Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor and lawyer Lai Su-ju (賴素如) to handle her case, Lai said yesterday.

Lai said her client told her it was a “false report” and decided to take legal action against the magazine to protect her reputation.

The weekly’s latest issue, available yesterday, claimed Ma Yi-nan earlier this month pressured the chairman of Minghsin University of Science and Technology (MUST), through Minister of Education Wu Ching-chi (吳清基), hoping the chairman would hire her brother-in-law, Feng Dan-pai (馮丹白) — dean of National Taiwan Normal University’s College of Technology — as MUST chancellor.

The magazine also alleged Ma Yi-nan abused her power by placing her mother-in-law into Chao-ju — a famous nursing home located in the mountains near National Chengchi University — shortly after Ma Ying-jeou was elected in 2008.

Anyone over the age of 65 who has registered their household with the city for more than four months and can take care of their daily life is eligible to file an application, the home’s regulations say.

The report alleged Ma Yi-nan called Taipei City Department of Social Welfare Commissioner Shih Yu-ling (師豫玲) in a bid to secure a room for her mother-in-law and even asked the home to assign three foreign caregivers to assist her mother-in-law — in her 90s — around the clock.

The report said the city’s Department of Labor made surprise inspections of the home on June 3 and June 25, after receiving reports of a violation regarding the foreign caregivers.

The home later passed on the information to Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) through some of his close friends and urged his office to stop any similar incidents from occurring, the report said.

Lai yesterday said Feng was recently elected the new MUST chancellor, but added her client did not use her influence in any form to sway Wu.

As for the other allegation, Lai said Ma Yi-nan’s mother-in-law began staying at the nursing facility in 2003 — long before the presidential election. Lai said her client never meddled in the allocation of manpower at the facility nor made any special requests.

Without double-checking the time, place and people involved, Lai said the magazine risked committing libel and violating journalistic ethics and professionalism by publishing such a false report.

Hau, the Taipei City Government and the Ministry of Education also rejected the report.

“This is absolutely untrue. President Ma has never mentioned anything related to his sister’s mother-in-law to me, either,” Hau said when asked for comment.

Shih said the department never received phone calls from Ma Yi-nan to hire foreign caregivers or to offer 24-hour service for her mother-in-law. Shih also defended Ma Yi-nan’s right to hire foreign caretakers since the nursing home was run by a private business.

Lee Yen-yi (李彥儀), director of the ministry’s Department of Technological and Vocational Education, said Wu, who is currently on an inspection trip in Vietnam, was very upset at the report.

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