Taiwan's new envoy to Singapore "should be" taking up post by end August amid drink driving row

Newly appointed Taiwanese envoy to Singapore Antonio Chiang is expected to take up his position by the end of August.
Newly appointed Taiwanese envoy to Singapore Antonio Chiang is expected to take up his position by the end of August.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY

Taiwan's newly appointed envoy to Singapore Antonio Chiang "should be" taking up his post by the end of the month, amid calls for his resignation over a drink driving scandal.

Mr Pu Kuo-ching, an official at the Taipei Representative Office which handles Taiwan's relations with the Republic, told reporters this on Sunday (Aug 7), according to Central News Agency.

His response echoes that of Taiwan's foreign affairs ministry, which has maintained that Mr Chiang will assume his job once the "legal process is complete".

Mr Chiang, 72, has been derided by the opposition and civic groups after being hauled up by police last week for driving under the influence of alcohol, just hours after he was sworn in by President Tsai Ing-wen.

But he received a much needed boost on Sunday when veteran political heavyweight Shih Ming-teh expressed support for his appointment as envoy to Singapore in a Facebook post.

"Be it education, views, experience, connections or ability, Chiang is top notch," he wrote.

Mr Chiang was a long-time columnist at Taiwan's Apple Daily and headed Taipei Times, one of the island's few English-language dailies. He was also a former deputy secretary-general of Taiwan's National Security Council.

Mr Shih, known as Taiwan's Nelson Mandela for enduring 25 years in prison under Kuomintang rule and led Ms Tsai's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for a brief stint in the 1990, also slammed what he described as knee jerk, extreme reaction by Taiwanese public to any incident of wrongdoing by the establishment.

"This has become a mad-dog society, where every one jumps in the frenzy once they smell blood," he said.

Mr Shih's comments came a day after Mr Chiang cancelled his flight to the Republic, leaving his posting in doubt. Taiwan media reports said he had been scheduled to attend Singapore's National Day on Tuesday.

The envoy has apologised for the misdemeanour. Ms Tsai's office and Taiwan's foreign affairs ministry have expressed regret over the incident, saying that Mr Chiang should have known better.

However opposition politicians and civic groups are pushing for a stronger response, and say that Mr Chiang has to go for "disgracing" Taiwanese.

President Tsai ought to consider replacing Mr Chiang if the envoy is found guilty of drink driving charges, said former Vice-President Wu Den-yih on Saturday, as it would be inappropriate to send someone who has committed an offence to Singapore.

Mr Hsu Lih-min, an official of the Taiwan Against Drunk Driving group, urged Mr Chiang to quit the job to "set an example for society", United Daily News reported.