Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Two face charges over US$30m Taiwan deal

While the Taiwanese government and media have have implicated Nawaeb MP and Public Accounts Committee chairman Timothy Bonga and Dr Florian Gubon in the the US 30 million deal from, money that was supposed to come to PNG, no action has been taken against them. Taiwan, however, has gone ahead and arrested and charged several of its leaders. Papua New Guinea should follow Taiwan’s example for purposes of transparency. The story below appeared in The National newspaper, Papua New Guinea’s leading daily newspaper, today.


Taiwan’s watchdog agency, Control Yuan, says it will charge former national security council secretary-general Chiou I-jen and former foreign affairs minister Huang Chi-fang for an alleged secret diplomacy scandal with Papua New Guinea in 2006.

Media reports in Taipei quoted Yuan Control president Wang Chien-shien as saying that investigations had been completed, without revealing the contents of the report.

Control Yuan proposed to impeach both high ranking officials of former president Chen Shui-bian’s administration for “their irregularities or dereliction of duty in a US$30 million proposal to build secret diplomatic ties with PNG in 2006”.

A number of PNG politicians and officials flew to Taiwan and held talks with these two men, but denied the talks were over diplomatic switch from China to Taiwan in exchange for cash.

They also denied being paid money from the US$30 million, although a middleman who fled to USA had claimed in a media report to have paid “a huge chunk of the money to PNG officials”.

Mr Wang told reporters that as executive of the nation’s highest watchdog, he was in a position to raise an impeachment proposal if needed, because “the president of the Control Yuan can fully enjoy the rights and obligations of a member of the yuan”.

When taking office last Aug 1, Wang listed the US$30 million secret diplomacy scandal as one of the major, eye-catching scandals subject to thorough investigations, and claimed that he would play a role in investigating the case.

According to sources close to the Control Yuan, agency members would meet on Friday to discuss a possible impeachment against Chiou and Huang.

Although prosecutors and the Control Yuan did not find the US$30 million flowing into the accounts of Chiou and Huang, they cannot escape their administrative responsibilities.

Informed sources said the PNG scandal followed the termination of diplomatic ties with Chad, an African country, in August 2006.

Chiou, then secretary-general of the national security council, instructed Huang, then a foreign affairs minister, to negotiate with diplomatic brokers Chin Chi-chiu and Wu Shi-tsai over a proposal to build official ties with PNG to offset the August diplomatic setback.

Huang then asked his close aide, Johnson Chang, to accompany Chin and Wu to Singapore to open accounts there.

Later, the accounting department of the ministry of foreign affairs, remitted US$30 million into the accounts of Chin and Wu under the instruction of Huang.

But Chin fled after clearing his account in late December 2006.

In response to the possible impeachment, Chiou said he had been well prepared for the impeachment because it would come sooner or later after the eruption of the scandal.

“This is the greatest ache in my heart over my eight years of efforts in promoting secret diplomacy,” Chiou told reporters.

Chiou stressed that he did commit administrative shortcomings, not irregularities.

Meanwhile, Huang said he felt quite sorry and upset over the eruption of the scandal.

“As a new foreign affairs minister then, I was not in a good position to cast doubts about Chiou’s instruction on promoting diplomatic ties with PNG, yet only to have myself caught in the scandal.”

Control Yuan is one of five branches of the Taiwanese government and is a watchdog of the government.

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