Taipei, Jan. 15 (CNA) Former Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang expressed regret Thursday about his impeachment over a scandal involving a botched attempt to win Papua New Guinea as a diplomatic ally, in which Taiwan was duped out of nearly US$30 million.
In a statement issued to the media, Huang argued that due to the difficult situation faced by Taiwan in the international community, any bids to forge diplomatic relations with other countries carry "a high degree of risk" and that the government should not impose a limitation on its diplomatic work just because of such risk.
In this very case, Huang said, he did not "blindly carry out" the mission entrusted to him by his superior, but opted to terminate the project after realizing that it could damage the country's interests.
After failing in an attempt to recover the fund, Huang continued, he took the initiative to inform judicial authorities of the case, adding that he was extremely sad about the damage the case did to the country's image.
In the scandal, two middlemen -- Ching Chi Ju and Wu Shih-Tsai -- who were commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2006 to help broker a deal for the establishment of diplomatic ties with Papua New Guinea, allegedly embezzled the US$29.8 million intended as aid funds for the Pacific nation.
The project was initiated after then National Security Council Secretary-General Chiou I-jen introduced Ching, who claimed to maintain good connections with Papua New Guinea politicians, to Huang.
While Ching has since fled to the United States, Wu has been detained since May 2008 and was indicted in September on charge of forgery.
The Control Yuan -- the top government watchdog -- impeached Huang and Chiou Wednesday as it concluded an investigation into the scandal.
The impeachment said the dereliction of duty by Huang and Chiou was to blame for the loss of public funds and for the damage to the government's image.
Huang and Chiou, meanwhile, are still under investigation by prosecutors.
(By Y.F. Low)