Taiwan's new envoy to Singapore Antonio Chiang resigns over drink driving scandal

Mr Antonio Chiang seen at a press conference on August 4 where he apologised for drink driving.
Mr Antonio Chiang seen at a press conference on August 4 where he apologised for drink driving. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

Taiwan's new representative to Singapore Antonio Chiang resigned on Tuesday (Aug 9) over a drink driving incident that has drawn ridicule for the months-old administration of President Tsai Ing-wen.

Mr Chiang said in a statement issued to the semi-official Central news Agency that he had tendered his resignation to Ms Tsai and foreign minister David Lee to take responsibility for "causing trouble" to the government.

"I don't hanker after power or status, and only wish to serve Taiwan," said Mr Chiang, 72, in the statement.

"But I am filled with guilt and self-recrimination for causing trouble to the government even before my posting."

Ms Tsai's spokesman Alex Huang said the president "respects" Mr Chiang's decision and would appoint a replacement for him, Central News Agency reported. The foreign ministry said it has informed Singapore of the development.

 

Mr Chiang, a veteran journalist and deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council from 2000-2004, had come under pressure from opposition politicians and civic groups to resign after being caught drink driving last Tuesday night - just hours after he was sworn into his new job by President Tsai. 

Taiwan's foreign affairs ministry initially said it had informed Singapore of the incident and Mr Chiang would fly to the Republic to assume his position as planned.

But he cancelled his scheduled flight last weekend amid criticisms that he had disgraced Taiwan and was not fit to represent the island.

Mr Chiang, well known as an incisive political columnist with Taiwan's Apple Daily before his appointment by Ms Tsai, had apologised for the slip-up. 

His breath alcohol content was found to be 0.27mg per litre, almost double the legal limit of 0.15mg per litre and could have landed him in jail for up to two years.

Yet on Monday, Taipei prosecutors announced that they had decided to defer prosecution, meaning Mr Chiang will be let off if he does not re-offend within one year.

Prosecutors said they decided to fine Mr Chiang NT$60,000 (S$2,570) only because he had shown remorse and had not cause any accident.

But the move was roundly criticised and piled even more pressure on the Tsai administration to let Mr Chiang go.

Opposition lawmakers Lin Te-fu of the Kuomintang and People First Party's Chen Yi-chieh accused the government of double standards, pointing out that public servants nabbed for drink driving should be disciplined if not dismissed from their positions.


Correction note: An earlier version of the story said the breathalyser test showed his blood alcohol content was 0.27mg per litre. It should be his breath alcohol content. We are sorry for the error.