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Deputy culture minister fired after leakage brouhaha

2015/10/17 12:14:04

Vicki Chiu making her case to reporters on Oct. 15

Taipei, Oct. 17 (CNA) Deputy Minister of Culture Vicki Chiu (邱于芸) has been sacked for writing a letter of attestation to her boss to deny having leaked official documents, the Ministry of Culture said late Friday.

In a press release, the ministry said Chiu's letter indicated "doubts" in the communication between Minister of Culture Hung Meng-chi (洪孟啟) and his deputy and "ran counter to administrative ethics."

To avoid difficulties in the execution of Ministry of Culture (MOC) policies, Hung sought and got approval on Friday to relieve Chiu of her duties, according to the press release.

Chiu also issued a statement late Friday in which she reiterated her position that she was not the one who talked to reporters about a MOC discussion in May over possible payments in the name of subsidies to lawmakers affiliated with the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party in exchange for their support of the ministry's budget proposal.

Chiu said there had been suggestions that she was the one who leaked the information and she had been unable to secure help from other officials in the ministry in her efforts to clear her name.

Chiu wrote the letter to the minister in her own defense, she said.

A daughter of media tycoon Chiu Fu-sheng (邱復生) and a former college assistant professor who received her doctorate degree from Cambridge, Chiu said she found the minister's decision to sack her "unfair and regrettable."

She added, however, that she "would still like to give my superiors a present," suggesting perhaps she would not contest Hung's decision.

Chiu was appointed deputy minister of culture in January.

The controversy over the MOC's alleged misuse of government funds began in late September, when tabloid-style Next weekly magazine reported in a scoop that the ministry attempted to secure budget approval by offering KMT lawmakers NT$2.5 million each in return for their support.

Cultural Minister Hung offered to resign over the controversy, but his offer was turned down by Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) on Sept. 30 and the focus of the issue soon turned to where Next magazine got the information.

In its press release issued late Friday, the MOC said it is working with the ethics department and the Agency Against Corruption under the Ministry of Justice as they investigate the matter.

In an update published on Friday, Next magazine quoted MOC officials as telling investigators that the idea of paying KMT lawmakers was merely a proposal raised during a meeting of top MOC officials and was never adopted, much less implemented.

(By Wang Jing-yi and Jay Chen)