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TAIWAN: Chen sues lawmakers and radio host

President Chen Shui-bian files libel lawsuits against two lawmakers and a radio talk show host

The Straits Times
Friday, October 22, 2004

President Chen Shui-bian filed libel lawsuits yesterday against two opposition lawmakers and a popular radio talk show host who alleged he gave US$1 million (S$1.7 million) to former Panamanian president Mireya Moscoso.

Lawmakers Liu Wen-hsiung and Tsay Chung-han told reporters on Wednesday that Mr Chen gave Ms Moscoso, then 57, the money as a birthday present last year when she was still president.

Mr Liu suggested the money was for covering up Mr Chen's attempt to 'eat her tofu' - Taiwanese slang for making a sexual advance.

When asked about their sources, the lawmakers said they heard about it on a radio programme hosted Mr Jaw Shaw-kang, a former opposition politician and harsh critic of the President.

Mr Jaw said he did not mention Mr Chen by name and that he only referred to a report on a Chinese-language website which said the Taiwanese government had given the money to Ms Moscoso.

The Presidential Office immediately dismissed the allegations as fabrications.

Mr Chen's lawyer filed a libel lawsuit against the three men and demanded that they apologise and publish the court verdict in five major daily newspapers.

Yesterday, Mr Liu refused to apologise for his comments and instead threatened to file a countersuit.

The accusations came as Taiwan was fighting off allegations that it gave improper donations to leaders of two other Latin American allies, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

The island has often been accused of waging 'dollar diplomacy' - giving money in exchange for formal diplomatic relations.

Taiwan has 26 diplomatic allies, most of them small, impoverished nations in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.

Asia Institute