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September 23, 2017

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Shih denies Singapore relationship rumor

Taiwan's Vice Foreign Minister Vanessa Shih yesterday denied rumors that she was in close contact with former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's son during her tenure as the country's representative to the city-state.

Shih rejected allegations that she was recalled from her post in Singapore earlier this year due to her relationship with Lee's son. She also expressed her wish yesterday that "such groundless accusations would end as soon as possible."

"I have never had private meetings with [Lee's son] and I don't even know this so-called public figure," Shih replied to a question about the rumor.

The vice foreign minister made the comments in response to former Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Chang Sho-wen's (張碩文) Wednesday remark that Shih angered top Singaporean officials during her tenure from 2009 through 2012, due to her frequent contact with Lee's son.

Chang, however, did not identify which of the two sons Shih was in contact with. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is one of Lee's sons.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Shih said Chang's remark is "groundless and without evidence."

The married diplomat added that she always follows diplomatic protocols when promoting bilateral ties in a foreign country, denying any irregular relations with the Singaporean public figure in question.

Latest Accusation Adds New Twist to Ongoing Drama

Chang's Wednesday accusation added a new twist to the ongoing drama centering on Shih, who was promoted to the post of vice foreign minister earlier this month.

On Wednesday, a Control Yuan member named Chou Yang-sun held a press conference, accusing Shih of being in "dereliction of duty" while serving as Taiwan's top envoy to Singapore.

Chou did not give details to support his claim, only noting that the report will not be publicized because the contents involve "confidential information."

The Control Yuan's investigative report on Shih was delivered to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) last month and the foreign ministry is required to make an official response and take possible disciplinary action against Shih for her alleged misconduct within two weeks, as required.

In response to the Control Yuan's report, Shih yesterday reiterated her respect for the opinions expressed by the watchdog agency, adding that she will fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

Shih has been under the local media spotlight over the past months after a series of rumors accused the senior official of offending the Singaporean government by making contact with the city-state's opposition party and displaying Taiwan's national flag at an event.

Despite the controversy, Shih was sworn in as the country's new vice foreign minister earlier this month for what Foreign Minister Timothy Yang described as her "extraordinary performance" during her post in Singapore.

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