Taiwan women's rights groups yesterday scathingly attacked a novel depicting a powerful opposition political figure who allegedly slept her way to the top. They said the recently released book had reversed hard-earned progress made by a handful of prominent female politicians. The book, by Lee Ang, former lover of Shih Ming-teh, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party's ex-chairman, allegedly points an accusing finger at Sisy Chen Wen-chien, chief spokesman of the party, although another name is used for the character. Activists from three women's rights groups, who released a joint statement on the book yesterday, said it would be more appropriate to publicly discuss whether people would respect a woman who did not use sex to gain power. They said women who had political power were as entitled to their private lives as men were. Ms Chen, who avoided public appearances for several days while friends stepped forward to deny the allegations, yesterday addressed them on her cable television show Women Speak Out. She said that many well-known male politicians had also capitalised on their bodies to gain political power. Mr Shih broke his silence to deny the book's hint of a sexual relationship with Ms Chen, who was promoted to her present position by Mr Shih.