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MOFA denies diplomat requested political asylum in South Africa

MOFA denies diplomat requested political asylum in South Africa

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied media reports Saturday that a diplomat applied for political asylum in South Africa over a financial dispute.
The conflict over the booking of hotel rooms for a Taiwanese delegation to last November’s United Nations climate conference was solved last month, MOFA spokesman James Chang said.
The Chinese-language Liberty Times reported Saturday that Lu Ching-yang, a first-grade secretary at the Taiwanese representative office in South Africa, threatened to apply for political asylum in that country after a dispute over hotel payments.
The report came from a document drawn up by the Taiwanese Criminal Investigation Bureau office in South Africa on January 24 which found its way to opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Tsai Huang-liang.
MOFA reportedly threatened to move Lu to another assignment if he couldn’t solve the financial dispute with a South African travel agency over the repayment of a US$37,000 (NT$1 million) deposit. As a result, Lu, who had already spent four years in South Africa, threatened to take a priest and an attorney with him to apply for political asylum, the Liberty Times reported. The incident apparently happened in the early hours of Lunar New Year Day, January 23.
Top officials convinced Lu not to go ahead with his threat, defusing the situation by noon that day, the paper said.
Tsai said the matter was most likely not purely financial but a symptom of a power struggle inside the Taiwanese mission in South Africa. The whole affair was deeply humiliating for Taiwan, he said, as such things were only supposed to happen with diplomats from countries like China or North Korea.
MOFA said Lu might have made the threat to ask for political asylum, but never acted on it. By mid-February, the problem had been solved and Lu had left South Africa to work in another country, Chang said.
The South Africa controversy follows reports of strained relations with Singapore and claims that the newly appointed representative in Japan, Vice Foreign Minister Shen Szu-tsun, might not function properly because he doesn’t speak fluent Japanese. Taiwan’s former representative in Kansas City, Missouri, is under investigation after pleading guilty in the United States of mistreating and underpaying her Filipino housekeepers.


Updated : 2021-08-01 16:24 GMT+08:00