KMT official in US sued over signature to `Bulletgate' book

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 3

The Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) representative in Wash-ington, Jason Yuan (袁健生), is being sued by a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker for tagging himself an "ambassador" while distributing the Bulletgate pamphlets to members of the US Congress.

DPP Legislator Wang Sing-nan (王幸男) yesterday sued Yuan at the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office, citing an alleged violation of Article 158 of the Criminal Code, which punishes people who impersonate public officials with a maximum three years in jail.

The 20-page pamphlets, which Yuan sent to US senators and representatives together with a cover letter summarizing the contents last month, were part of a KMT campaign to challenge the legitimacy of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) re-election.

Yuan is a former director general of the foreign ministry's Department of North American Affairs and the nation's former ambassador to Panama.

Yuan wrote in his letter that Bulletgate referred to "the mysterious gun shooting case" and "many irregularities of that election." He signed his name as "Amb. Jason C. Yuan/Representative" in the letter.

"According to tradition, diplomats who have served as ambassadors are indeed respectfully addressed as ambassadors even after they take up new posts or after they retire," Wang said.

"But tradition is one thing; Yuan calling himself an ambassador is another. He retired earlier this year and is no longer a civil servant ... He is just the opposition party's representative in the US. Calling himself an ambassador is questionable behavior," Wang said.

Wang added that Yuan may have also violated Article 159 of the Criminal Code, which forbids the unauthorized use of uniforms or official titles.

A senior government official who recently wrapped up a trip to Washington said the KMT's campaign in the US had caused "significant damage" to the government's image.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on Yuan's conduct when asked about Wang's accusation.

"Yuan is a retired official. His remarks and actions do not represent the ministry," said Anna Kao (高安), deputy director general of the ministry's Department of Information and Cultural Affairs, at a press conference yesterday.

"Our representative offices in the US have sent documents to the relevant US government agencies to clear concerns [about the election]," she said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) said Yuan's campaign in Washington was "regrettable" when local media first reported on the booklet last week.