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President's sister sues Next Magazine

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Ma Yi-nan (馬以南), a sister of President Ma Ying-jeou, yesterday pressed charges against Next Magazine over an article alleging that she was involved in the controversial Twin Towers development project.

Next Magazine published an article on April 3 suggesting that real estate developer Cheng Hung-tao (程宏道) allegedly asked Kuomintang Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如) to contact Ma Yi-nan while the now disqualified bidder, Taipei Gateway International Development Co., Ltd. (TGID, 太極雙星) was trying to win the Twin Towers contract.

Both Cheng and Lai are now being held incommunicado over alleged corruption regarding the development.

According to the Next Magazine article, after creating a wealthy and professional image of TGID to win the Twin Towers bid, Ma allegedly helped the firm to borrow land from Da Cin Construction Co., Ltd. (Da Cin,達欣工程).

Ma does not know Cheng, nor has she borrowed land from Da Cin, according to her lawyer, Tsai Mao-sung (蔡茂松), who added that the president's sister has nothing to do with the questionable Twin Towers bidding process.

Tsai said that Ma and Da Cin Vice Chairman Wang Jen-chih (王人治) are acquainted with each other through charity events but do not have any business relationship regarding the Twin Towers project.

Next Magazine violated slander and libel laws with the article, seriously damaging the reputation of Ma and her family, Tsai claimed.

Ma is requesting that the magazine pay NT$10 million in compensation and place ads apologizing for the article in newspapers.

In a statement released early yesterday, Ma dismissed every allegation in the article as untrue, stating that she did not even know what TGID was, making it impossible for her to help the firm borrow land from Da Cin.

Ma said that she understands keeping a healthy circulation is necessary for a print outlet to survive, but that the media should not fabricate news and besmirch innocent people to do this.

As an older sister to the president, Ma said it is inevitable that she will sometimes find herself in the spotlight, but said she should not be used by the media to boost circulation or ratings.

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