Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) recently alleged that lawyer C.V. Chen (陳長文) had engaged in a serious conflict of interests by lobbying for amendments to airport terminal regulations on behalf of his foreign clients.
DFS Group Ltd — one of the world’s leading luxury retailers catering to travelers — set up a duty free shop at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in March 2000 after securing a bid from the airport, but terminated the contract after six months, Lo said.
The company, she said, wants to invest in Taiwan again, but instead of going through normal channels, it asked Chen to lobby for the airport to change its regulations so the company could set up a duty free shop in Taipei where travelers could purchase goods, but pick them up at a counter in the airport afterward.
Lo said Chen — a member of the Central Committee on Anti-Corruption, an administrative consultant for the Executive Yuan, and a one-time professor to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) looked like he was attempting to break the rules by helping DFS Group.
Can a member of the anti-corruption committee, who doubles as an administrative consultant, use his official status to give suggestions to the government, while using his status as a lawyer to lobby the government on behalf of his clients, Lo asked.
If former Executive Yuan secretary-general Lin Yi-shih’s (林益世) lobbying for China Steel Corp subsidiary CHC Corp for slag and metal waste to be supplied to Chen Chi-hsiang’s (陳啟祥) Ti Yung Co was illegal, then Chen’s actions are equally suspect, Lo said.
Lo called on the Ma administration to make a general inquiry into how many “Ma Yo Yos (馬友友)” there were in the government and what cases they were involved in.
The term “Ma Yo Yo” is a play on the name of renowned cellist Yo-yo Ma (馬友友), which in Chinese could be interpreted as meaning “friends of Ma [Ying-jeou].”
Lo added that after the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) refused C.V. Chen’s request, he wrote to Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) four times to lobby for an amendment to the regulations.
The first three letters were written under C.V. Chen’s own name, but the fourth was under the name of the law firm of which C.V. Chen is the executive officer, Lo said, adding that though the reason stated in the letters were for the promotion of tourism, it did not change the fact that C.V. Chen was lobbying on behalf of the company.
Lo further alleged that after C.V. Chen failed to persuade Mao or the CAA to change the regulations, he wrote newspaper editorials -criticizing the officials in charge of the issue.
C.V. Chen often lobbied government officials for both personal matters or matters pertaining to his clients, and if the officials did not comply with his wishes, he would publish stories in newspapers for Ma Ying-jeou to see, Lo said, adding that this was why officials were afraid of C.V. Chen.
C.V. Chen responded on Saturday with a statement.
“Pressuring government officials? I don’t have that kind of power. I was simply — and quite openly — asking government officials about the issue, and I don’t know how that is considered ‘lobbying.’ I’m quite certain that I’ve been clear on the issue, but Legislator Lo might not be. There are too many incidents in our nation where people get away with just saying things without proof and I hope the government clears up this issue as soon as possible,” he said.