S'pore-bound Taiwan envoy taken off duty after drink driving fine
ANTIONIO Chiang, who should have started on his job just before Singapore's national day as Taiwan's top envoy to the country, was relieved of his posting by President Tsai Ing-wen yesterday, a week after he was booked for drink driving in Taipei.
According to Taiwan's ET Today newspaper, Mr Chiang, 72, had himself asked to be taken off the post due to the offence, and she promptly granted his request.
The president's office said another person would be sent and that Singapore had been notified.
When the hearing of Mr Chiang's case was deferred on Monday by the court to a year later, which also decided on a fine of NT$60,000 (S$2,575), it was widely speculated that the move was to enable him to assume the post.
Mr Chiang, a former journalist, newspaper columnist and adviser to Ms Tsai's election campaign, was lambasted by opposition parties and anti-drink driving groups following the offence, which they said set a very bad example for the island.
But legislator Tsai Shih-ying of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday that the dismissal was wrong, as Mr Chiang, with his knowledge on international politics, would serve Taiwan well in Singapore.
Mr Tsai also claimed that Singapore welcomed him and had looked forward to his arrival.
Former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh also said Mr Chiang could be a "showcase of Taiwan democracy", instructing Singapore on the matter of freedom, reported Taiwan's China Television System broadcaster.
However, many Taiwanese netizens said there was no report that Singapore had insisted on having Mr Chiang.
Commenter Tang Hsiang Lung recalled in the Yahoo news website that Singapore pulled out all the stops to track down and punish a Romanian diplomat who killed a pedestrian in Singapore when he drove under influence in late 2009.
Also, Mr Tang pointed out, 52 lives were lost to drink driving in Taiwan in the first half of this year.
And that is before including the 26 killed when a fire engulfed a crashed tour bus recently, whose driver was found to have boozed, he added.