The son of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday demanded an apology and threatened to take legal action against Next Magazine after it alleged in its latest issue that the junior Chen had solicited the services of a prostitute.
Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), who came from Kaohsiung yesterday to visit his father at the Taipei Detention Center in Tucheng (土城), Taipei County, called the allegation “preposterous.”
His wife, Huang Jui-ching (黃睿靚), said that her husband was at home at the time the magazine claims he was in the company of a prostitute.
In yesterday’s issue, the magazine alleged that Chen Chih-chung habitually frequents prostitutes and that his car had been observed in Kaohsiung in the early hours of July 3 picking up a long-haired young woman and taking her to a motel.
The magazine received four fragments of a recorded telephone conversation one week later, the report said. It said the man in the tape sounded like Chen Chih-chung, and the time of recording was around the time of the incident.
In the conversation, the report said the man, ostensibly talking with a pimp, gave the brand and make of his vehicle as well as its license plate number.
The magazine claims it later contacted the prostitute, “Nicole,” who confirmed that she had entertained Chen Chih-chung on July 3. Nicole said she did not say anything because she did not think anyone would believe her.
Although Chen denied the allegation when the magazine called him for comment, it still ran the story.
Chen said he did not have the energy to solicit prostitutes because campaign activities kept him very busy. He is running as an independent candidate for the Greater Kaohsiung council in November.
“I’m as tired as an old dog at the end of the day,” he said.
Chen Chih-chung said he lent his car to a friend, Mr Lin, on the day in question. Lin yesterday confirmed he had borrowed the car from the former president’s son. However, one of his friends from Taipei was driving it on the day of the incident, he said. Lin described his friend as a 30-something married man with glasses and a crew cut, someone who looks like Chen Chih-chung.
Lin said he confronted his friend after the news broke and said that he admitted soliciting a prostitute on July 3.
Chen Chih-chung said he would first discuss the issue with his lawyer before deciding whether to take legal action, adding that they would first attempt to find the source of the tipoff. He said the story was one-sided, sensationalist and presented no solid evidence to prove he was the person in the car.
Huang described the magazine as a “gossipy tabloid whose only mission is to create havoc.”
She said it did not deserve any further comment.
“It’s utterly detestable,” she said. “If they want to frame my husband, they should at least find someone who looks more like him.”
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday remained low-key on the allegations.
DPP spokesperson Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said he did not believe Chen was “that kind of person.”
“We believe that the truth as to whether these allegations are true or false will come out in the legal process” should the former president’s son file a defamation lawsuit, Tsai said.
Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters executive director Chung Chun-chu (鍾君竺) said that if the report were true, “it would show that the sex industry is needed and that even politicians or the son of a former president need it.”
“Chen Chih-chung [if he did] should not be ashamed of hiring a prostitute, because there’s nothing wrong with that,” Chung said. “Rather, his father ... should be ashamed for outlawing prostitution when he was Taipei mayor.”
“If Chen Chih-chung really did it, he should admit it, and we welcome him to join our campaign to decriminalize the sex industry,” she said.
Next Magazine said if Chen Chih-chung decides to file suit, “we’ll meet in court then.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VINCENT Y. CHAO AND LOA IOK-SIN
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