Taiwan’s new envoy to Singapore resigns over drink-driving scandal

Antonio Chiang was arrested in Taipei last week just hours after being sworn in for his new role

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 August, 2016, 2:32pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 August, 2016, 10:36pm

Taiwan’s new representative to Singapore, Antonio Chiang, resigned from his post on Tuesday after he was arrested for drink driving hours after being sworn in for his new position last week.

In a statement, Chiang said “I feel sorry and have no one to blame but myself”, adding that he had tendered his resignation to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and Foreign Minister David Lee.

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang said the president respected Chiang’s decision and would appoint a new representative.

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Chiang, 72, was arrested for drink driving in Taipei shortly after being sworn in as Taiwan’s envoy to Singapore last Tuesday.

His blood alcohol concentration was 0.27 per cent. The legal limit for driving in Taiwan is 0.05 per cent.

Chiang apologised “for causing trouble for the Presidential Office and Foreign Ministry”. He said he was examining his actions, adding that they were wrong.

Despite the fact that Chiang was specially appointed by Tsai, the Presidential Office distanced itself from the incident and remained low-key, reiterating that Chiang should not have been driving under the influence of alcohol and that he had set a very “bad example”.

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Describing the incident as “unfortunate,” the foreign ministry said on Monday that the incident was a “personal affair” and that Chiang had already apologised to the ministry and the public.

It had also said the envoy was preparing to take up his new position as planned after the Taipei Prosecutors Office decided to defer prosecution for a year if Chiang paid NT$60,000 (US$1,900) in fines for endangering public safety.

But the incident irked many, especially anti-drink-driving groups, which have been pressuring Chiang to resign or calling for Tsai to replace him.

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Describing Chiang as “shameful”, Chen Min-hsiang, director general of Taiwan Against Drunk Driving, urged Tsai to run the country with a new approach and begin with replacing Chiang.

“We hope the government will have zero tolerance for drink driving by its officials,” she said.

Chen, who lost her daughter to drink driving, said driving under the influence of alcohol was a serious matter and that no one, especially government officials, should take a chance with drink driving and instead should show respect for human life.