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Promotion of retirement-age ex-lawmaker stirs controversy

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday responded to controversy over the appointment of a former judge and legislator, Hsieh Chi-ta (謝啟大), as a senior specialist at the Secretariat of the Taipei City Government.

Hsieh, who departed Taiwan in pursuit of positions in mainland China following her imprisonment as a result of a defamation case with former President Lee Teng-hui five years ago, was initially appointed by Hau to serve as an advisory officer for the Taipei City Government in July 2013 after her return. She was shortly thereafter transferred to her current post.

Controversy over Hsieh's appointment stemmed from her currently being at retirement age. At 65, Hsieh recently qualified to receive a civil service pension for the rest of her life. As a result of her short term of service, the appointment has been interpreted by various media outlets as a favor from Hau to Hsieh to provide the latter with a golden ticket for a carefree retirement. Current pension laws will enable Hsieh, should she choose, to select between a one-time pension withdrawal and a monthly pension transfer.

Taipei City Government and Hsieh Answer Criticism

In response to media perceptions, Hau indicated yesterday during a public appearance that Hsieh's legal professionalism is the basis of her employment. Hau went on to praise the legal qualifications of Hsieh as a lawyer and former judge, as well as her connections with the people from her experiences as a legislator.

The mayor went on to state that Hsieh's current responsibilities include the safeguarding of women's rights, preventing domestic violence and child abuse as well as protection against and treatment of sexual assault cases, all of which are areas of expertise for Hsieh, said the mayor.

Taipei City Government spokesman Chang Chi-chiang (張其強) also said yesterday that the employment of Hsieh serves to draw on her expertise and experience in social welfare.

In response to the controversy yesterday, Hsieh said that with her legal qualifications she believes that she can find employment with a better salary elsewhere. Her reason for accepting her post with the city government was that she hopes to lend her services to the citizens of Taipei, said Hsieh.

Hsieh went on to stress that she has no plans for retirement anytime soon. She also stressed that she does not hold People's Republic of China citizenship, hoping to put rumors and criticism of the integrity of her appointment to rest.

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