The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) issued a statement Thursday denying allegations that the personal conduct of the country’s former top representative to Singaporehas affected Taiwan’s relations with the Southeast Asian city state.
The statement came a day after Control Yuan member Chou Yang-sun said at a news conference that Vanessa Shih had been “negligent” of her duties during her tenure as representative to Singapore from January 2009 to late February 2012.
Chou, however, did not offer any details to back his remarks, saying only that a Control Yuan investigative report on Shih’s performance in Singapore will not be publicised because it contains “confidential information.”
There has been heavy speculation in the media on the Control Yuan’s findings since Shih reportedly offended the Singapore government last year by making contact with the city-state’s opposition party and displaying Taiwan’s national flag at an event.
But the MOFA said the speculations were unfounded, and that Shih took the initiative to ask Foreign minister Timothy Yang to reassign her to a domestic post after she had completed three years of service in Singapore.
During her stint in the city state, the MOFA said, Shih worked very hard to fulfill her duties in line with the government’s diplomatic policy. She helped to expand exchanges and cooperation with Singapore in the economic, cultural, artistic, travel and culinary fields, the ministry said.
It added that while setbacks or difficulties may occasionally arise in bilateral engagements, Taiwan and Singapore have always managed to work out solutions through goodwill and sincere dialogue.
The ministry said that it closely monitors its overseas offices and if staff members at the representative office in Singapore were guilty of any misconduct, it would have taken disciplinary action against them.
Taiwan’s diplomatic corps has always worked hard to upgrade the country’s international profile, safeguard national dignity and project a good national image, the foreign ministry stressed in an apparent response to speculations that the representative office’s display of the Republic of China’s national flag at a Double Ten National Day celebration last year had offended the Singapore government.
Earlier in the day, MOFA spokesman Steve Hsia also denied a magazine report that Shih, now a vice foreign minister, is the government’s “secret conduit” for cross-Taiwan Strait contact.
“There is absolutely no such a thing,” Hsia said.
On Monday, Foreign minister Yang said no one is better informed than he is about Shih’s performance and the work of Taiwan’s overseas offices.
“During her stint, bilateral relations between Taiwan and Singapore improved,” Yang said.
He said Shih helped arrange a visit to Taiwan by Singaporean statesman Lee Kuan Yew last year, the first in nine years, and also contributed to several Singaporean companies listing on Taiwan’s stock exchange or over-the-counter market.
Yang also credited Shih with starting free trade talks with Singapore.