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President backs protege's version in Wikileaks brouhaha

President backs protege's version in Wikileaks brouhaha

President Ma Ying-jeou declined to comment Tuesday on the brouhaha caused by newly released diplomatic cables on Wikileaks about conversations between a former U.S. diplomat and New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu, a prominent ruling Kuomintang (KMT) politician.

Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, was cited as having said at a weekly KMT meeting that Chu would not have overstepped his authority in making private comments in his talks with Stephen Young, a former top U.S. representative in Taiwan.

"I believe Chu would have exercised his good sense of propriety in conversations with a foreign diplomat and would not have made any personal comments on such an occasion," he was cited as saying.

Citing the diplomatic cables leaked on Wikileaks, the United Evening News said Chu once told personnel of the Taipei office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) that Ma dislikes opposition People First Party Chairman James Soong, a key figure in the KMT-led "pan-blue" camp.

Chu was also cited as having told Young, a former AIT Taipei director, that Ma hopes senior KMT leaders, including its two honorary chairmen Lien Chan and Wu Poh-hsiung, will gradually retire from party politics.

"Since Chu has discounted the Wikileaks cables as `not factual,' our party need not comment on those unverified reports," Ma said at the KMT's weekly meeting.

According to the Wikileaks-released cables, Chu touched on many topics and issues during his meetings with Young between 2008 and 2009 when Chu was Taoyuan magistrate and seen as a trusted adviser to Ma and a rising younger-generation KMT leader.

Responding to press inquiries about his views on the leaked cables, Chu said earlier that day that the Wikileaks claims are "something impossible and unlikely to happen."

He further issued a news statement later that day, saying he is not someone who likes gossip or tittle-tattle.

"I cannot remember what I said four years ago, but much of the content of the Wikileaks cables apparently is the personal interpretations of Young or other AIT staff," Chu said.

The years 2008 and 2009 were when Ma was running for the presidency for the first time and Chu said he defined his meetings with Young and other AIT staff as "friendship contacts" or moves to help promote Taiwan-U.S. ties.

"Those meetings took place in easy and friendly settings and the AIT officials tended to ask me my opinions about news clippings or political events. I might have politely mentioned that I was aware of what the clippings referred to or about the various events that were unfolding. They should not have taken such uttering as my comments or opinions," he said in the statement.


Updated : 2021-07-24 01:09 GMT+08:00