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September 26, 2017

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Envoy to India not forced from post: MOFA

By Joseph Yeh--Taiwan's top envoy to India chose to retire voluntarily and was not forced to leave the post, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

Taipei's de facto ambassador in New Delhi, Philip Ong (翁文祺) decided himself to file for retirement in early September, MOFA spokesman Steve Hsia said.

Then-Foreign Minister Timothy Yang tried to convince Ong to stay but the representative insisted on retiring, saying he has other plans in his life, according to Hsia.

His resignation has nothing to do with former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen's recent trip to India, the spokesman said.

The MOFA official's comments come after reports alleged that Ong, 52, was forced to quit his job and file for early retirement because he invited Tsai to visit New Delhi last month.

Asked to comment on Ong's retirement, Tsai yesterday said she had just learned the news and that she would like to apologize to the envoy if her visit caused trouble for him.

The former DPP head said Ong did not show any signs he was considering retirement when she met with him during a Mid-Autumn Festival celebration event with other Taiwanese in India held mid-September.

An anonymous MOFA official told media yesterday that Tsai joined the event in India on Sept. 23 but Ong had already applied for retirement in early September.

Tsai urged the ruling administration to be "open-minded" and not to punish the diplomat over a simple trip.

Ong previously told local media that he chose to retire after serving for 31 years as a public servant to pursue a different career path. He is expected to leave India for Taiwan late November.

"Ong's retirement has absolutely nothing to do with Tsai's trip and the MOFA did not force him into retirement for any reason," the official said.

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