Wed, Jul 18, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Chou wants Shih report opened

DIPLOMATIC BEHAVIOR:The ombudsman is reportedly unhappy that the foreign ministry is trying to downplay the charges against the former envoy to Singapore

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chris Wang  /  Staff reporters

Democratic Progressive Party legislators Huang Wei-cher, left, and Chen Ting-fei, speaking in Taipei yesterday, question why Vanessa Shih was promoted to vice minister of foreign affairs after the Control Yuan criticized her conduct when she was the nation’s representative in Singapore.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Control Yuan member Chou Yang-shan (周陽山) is seeking to declassify the results of his investigation that reportedly held former representative to Singapore Vanessa Shih (史亞平) accountable for undermining bilateral relations during her tenure in the city-state because of “dereliction of duty.”

Chou made the remarks yesterday after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs appeared to be playing down the charges he brought against Shih in his classified report at a meeting of the Control Yuan’s Committee on Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs on June 20.

Asked to verify the reported allegations against Shih, Chou, via his assistant, said yesterday that he would only comment if the committee decides at a meeting today to declassify the report.

Chou was quoted by the Chinese-language United Evening News as saying that his investigation led to a conclusion that Shih was guilty of “dereliction of duty” and had “affected bilateral relations” between Taiwan and Singapore. Chou reportedly said he had already “pointed out facts” that substantiated the allegations, but that the ministry “did not get to the point.”

In consideration of the “sensitivity” of bilateral relations between Taiwan and Singapore as he was repeatedly told by Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) and Shih during his questioning of the two, her “negligence” was described in the report as being “implicit” rather than overt, the newspaper quoted Chou as saying.

On Monday, the Chinese-language China Times reported the existence of such a report by Chou, refueling the controversy about Shih’s performance during her three-year tenure in Singapore.

As of press time yesterday, little information on the report had been revealed, except for the disclosure of an incident in November last year in which the Taipei Representative Office in Singapore was not invited to a centennial commemoration of the Hsinhai Revolution jointly organized by Taiwan’s National Sun Yet-sen Memorial Hall and its counterpart in Singapore.

On Monday evening, Shih told the media that the incident was the only reason she was charged with dereliction of duty by the ombudsman.

The ministry yesterday continued to throw its support behind Shih, with ministry spokesman Steve Hsia (夏季昌) saying that the bulk of the report was about the absence of staff from the Taipei Representative Office in Singapore at the centennial commemoration of the Hsinhai Revolution.

Echoing what Yang has said about Shih in the past few months, Hsia said the contribution that Shih had made to enhance relations with Singapore “cannot be denied.”

The controversy surrounding Shih started about half a year ago, ranging from questions about her political and diplomatic dealings with Singaporean politicians to personal matters. That was just about the same time that rumors circulated that she was to be transferred back to the ministry to take up the vice minister post.

Despite the widespread rumors, Shih, born in 1962, was promoted to vice minister on June 23, making her the youngest female diplomat ever to assume the post.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) yesterday suggested that the Control Yuan make public part of the report to remove doubts that Shih was promoted because she is a close confidante of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus questioned the necessity of the report being classified “secret” and called for full disclosure of the report.

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