Taipei (The China Post/ANN) - Taiwan Vice President Wu Den-yih confirmed yesterday that he does know Wu Men-chung personally, and that he did attend the wedding of his friend's daughter, but that he is not acquainted with Cheng Tsai-mei, the bridegroom's mother, who also happens to be Chen Chi-hsiang's girlfriend. The vice president also said that neither Wu Men-chung nor Cheng Tsai-mei had approached him on Chen Chi-hsiang's behalf - "If that were true, my political career would be over."
Chen previously claimed that he had given former Cabinet Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih NT$63 million (US$2.1 million) as a bribe to secure a slag treatment deal with Taiwan's largest steel manufacturer.
Wu explained that he had attended the wedding several years ago as a friend and a witness on the bride's side of the family, stressing that he was not and is not acquainted with the bridegroom's mother and that there was no particular reason for him to remember her name.
The vice president was quoted as saying that he did not know until yesterday (when the reports came out) that the bridegroom's mother was Chen Chi-hsiang's girlfriend.
When asked about Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's re-election bid, Wu said that he supports Ma whole heartedly.
The vice president also said that there are still some "dark clouds" hanging over the political scene, such as the U.S. beef issue, but that the sky was bound to clear up sooner or later. Wu pointed out that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had previously referred to U.S. beef containing ractopamine as "poisonous."
"If the beef is poisonous, the former ruling party (i.e. the DPP) had been poisoning us for years," Wu said. "Now they've changed their minds about the 'toxicity' of the beef, saying that we should follow international standards (set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission) instead."
Furthermore, Wu pointed out that the stock gains tax proposal is in the final stages of negotiation, and that the Legislative Yuan will be holding an extraordinary session to deal with the issue soon. The vice president also added that the electricity price hike will be adjusted, whereas the determination of gasoline prices will be left entirely to the market.
Wu explained that President Ma has faced significant difficulties since the beginning of his second term. The most important thing, the vice president added, is for the country to stay united, and for corruption to come to an end; as long as the administration's economic policies are sound, the sky will clear up.
According to local reports, an acquaintance of Wu's said yesterday that Chen Chi-hsiang was not present at the wedding that the vice president had attended, and that Cheng Tsai-mei was not informed that Wu would be attending beforehand. The source also said that Wu and Chen do not know each other personally.
Furthermore, the acquaintance claimed that Cheng Tsai-mei had connections with KMT and DPP members based in Kaohsiung. When Lin Yi-shih demanded additional bribes, Chen's girlfriend went to the DPP for help, the acquaintance said.
Political commentators have speculated that the exposure of the bribery scandal came from within the KMT. Wu's acquaintance refuted this claim and said that it is more likely that the DPP was behind the exposure, because the opposition party sees Wu as a potential competitor for the 2016 presidential election; if someone from the KMT had wanted to destroy Wu, it would be more logical for that person to wait until the primaries.
Vice President Wu Den-yih was drawn into the bribery controversy when political talk show host Hu Chung-hsin claimed that another top KMT official - "Mr. X" - was involved in the recent scandal. Later on, DPP lawmakers held a press conference and speculated that the "Mr. X" referred to in the televised show might have been the vice president.
When asked if he would press charges against Hu, the vice president said, "Why would I?" Wu explained that he if takes Hu to court, the political talk show host would only defend himself by saying that he did not mention his name; however, the vice president added, if anyone openly accuses me of being involved in the bribery, I will of course take legal action.
Political talk show host Hu Chung-hsin said yesterday that he will turn over the "X Files" concerning the scandal to the Special Investigation Division. He claimed that the files in his possession will cause drastic changes to the political scene when exposed.
The vice president urged members of the media and the political scene yesterday to speak responsibly, adding that he will not "remain silent" in the face of malicious accusations.