Thu, Apr 12, 2018 - Page 3 News List

MOFA denies paying for celebration in Swaziland

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday denied a blog report that it has paid US$1.7 million for a national celebration in Swaziland this month, saying it only funded a fireworks show.

An article on the Swazi Media Commentary blog on Wednesday last week said Taipei has donated US$1.7 million for celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s independence from the UK and its establishment of diplomatic ties with Taiwan, as well as the 50th birthday of King Mswati III.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who is to leave for a five-day state visit to Swaziland on Tuesday, is the only head of state to have publicly accepted an invitation to the event on Thursday next week, the blog said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) asked Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) about the allegations during a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee.

“This [the report] is incorrect and absolutely false. We provided only a small amount of money for a fireworks show at the celebration,” Wu said, without disclosing the actual amount except to say it was less than the figure mentioned in the blog.

Some Taiwanese businesses have also donated educational equipment to the African nation, but the donations were not related to the celebrations, Wu said.

DPP Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) asked why the ministry did not arrange for Tsai to make a transit stop in a third country on her way to or from Swaziland.

“Former presidents Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) made transit stops in non-diplomatic allies during their state visits to Africa, except for Chen’s 2002 trip, due to Chinese pressure,” Lo said.

China was not a factor behind the lack of transit stops, because Swaziland can be reached without stopping, the minister said.

However, Lo said he was disappointed by the ministry’s unwillingness to “even try” for a transit stop.

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