A new diplomat is to be appointed to head the representative office in Singapore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, but it would not comment on a list of possible candidates.
“An announcement will be made after the administrative process is completed,” ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) said.
He added that Taiwan was informing the Singaporean government of the personnel change.
One of the names widely mentioned in local media as a possible successor is Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Francis Liang (梁國新), as the two countries are engaged in talks on an economic partnership agreement.
Asked about the return of Vanessa Shih (史亞平), the head of the Taipei Representative Office in Singapore, Chang said it had yet to be settled. He reiterated that the change in personnel is “normal” because Shih has been in Singapore for three years.
“Taiwan and Singapore have always maintained a close and steady relationship,” he said, dismissing media speculation that Shih was being replaced because of Singapore’s dissatisfaction with her.
The Chinese-language daily China Times speculated, citing anonymous sources, that Shih had angered former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀) and other senior officials with a series of actions, including singing the Republic of China’s (ROC) national anthem and hanging the ROC flag at a public reception celebrating the ROC’s centennial, and making contact with Chen Show Mao (陳碩茂), a member of Singapore’s opposition Workers’ Party, before the city-state’s general election, the paper said.
Chen, a Taiwanese immigrant, had won a seat in Singapore’s parliament and was one of the few Singaporean politicians with a Taiwanese background, intensifying the media’s attention, it said.
Singapore and Taiwan do not have official diplomatic relations and while Taiwan maintains strong trade relations with the city-state, political issues remain sensitive.