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Officials deny media speculation that they are being investigated

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Minister without Portfolio Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) held a press conference at the Executive Yuan yesterday morning and stated that he is not the “high-ranking official” who is speculated to have been monitored for years by the Agency Against Corruption (AAC).

Following the Chinese-language Apple Daily report that three years ago the AAC received intelligence claiming that a high-level political appointee who served at a governmental ministry allegedly took bribes from several local construction consortiums, many media outlets speculated that the official might be Chien, Cabinet Deputy Secretary-General Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) or Strait Exchange Foundation Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森).

Speculations arose as the aforementioned officials all served as deputy minister of the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) for different periods of time over the past few years.

During the press conference yesterday, Chien told reporters that he does not know if he is being monitored by the AAC or not, noting that, however, he is not afraid of being wiretapped as he believes his “moral character” can “stand the test.”

Chien said that although he once served at the MOI, the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) is an individual agency, meaning that no public construction under the CPA needs the MOI's approval.

The minister without portfolio further noted that he has met Farglory Group Chairman Chao Teng-hsiung (趙藤雄) — who is currently being detained and held incommunicado over allegations of bribery — at several public occasions, stressing, however, that he does not even know where Chao's office is.

Noting that he is running in the Pingtung mayoral election on behalf of the ruling party at the end of this year, Chien said he hopes “certain” people will not stigmatize his reputation.

Cabinet Deputy Secretary-General Hsiao yesterday responded to the speculation, saying that he has never had meals with Chao and he does not have anything to do with any of Farglory's projects.

Hsiao further said that the affordable housing projects were contracted out between 2011 and 2012, however, he took the post as MOI deputy minister in February 2013 and had only served at the ministry for over one year. Therefore, he said, he is not the “high-level official” who is being investigated.

Lin responded to the speculations via his secretary, who said Lin was transferred from the MOI to the Executive Yuan in 2009, adding that he was not serving at the MOI when the Taoyuan affordable housing project was approved three years ago. Lin's secretary said it was impossible for him to be involved in the bribery scandal.

The AAC on Wednesday denied the media speculation, saying that the news report does not match the truth.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), during the Cabinet's weekly meeting yesterday, said that when he was the MOI minister he had received reports claiming that former Taoyuan County Deputy Magistrate Yeh Shih-wen's (葉世文) reputation was questionable.

Jiang urged Cabinet members to pay extra attention to the reputations of officials in their ministries, adding that should they find officials' behavior to be questionable, they should then consider transferring them from their posts. The premier added that the heads of governmental agencies should not accept any company's private invitations for parties or treats.

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Minister without Portfolio Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) speaks during a press conference yesterday at the Executive Yuan. Chien said he is not the “high-level official” who has been the subject of a years-long investigation by the Agency Against Corruption (AAC). (CNA)

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