Chen aide denies France trip connected to frigate scam

The China Post staff

President Chen Shui-bian’s personal confidant Ma Yung-cheng yesterday confirmed that he went to France while the president was touring Africa, but denied he visited a key figure in the Yin Ching-feng murder scandal.

Ma said the trip was personal.

Recent speculation has put Ma leaving the presidential entourage during the African leg of Chen’s visit to ROC allies to go to France to meet with the mysterious Mrs. Tu. Mrs. Tu is thought to be a key figure in the swirl of mysteries ensnarling the unsolved murder of naval Captain Yin Ching-feng and corruption charges in the purchase of French Lafayette-class frigates. After Chen returned to Taiwan from his trip, reports started coming out of France claiming that someone high up in his administration had met with Mrs. Tu. Since coming to office, Chen has put a high priority on solving the seven year old murder mystery and allegations of corruption in the purchase of the French ships. Reports that Ma, one of President Chen Shui-bian’s two closest personal aides, had left the entourage for France during the trip led to speculation that he had been the one to meet with Mrs. Tu. Ma has long been one of Chen’s most trusted aides and was able to return to Chen’s side after a scandal while Chen was the mayor of Taipei that would have wrecked most political careers. Ma confirmed yesterday that he had taken a trip to France while the president was in Africa. But he said the trip was made for personal reasons and that there was nothing for him to explain. He also refused to comment on whether he had met up with a group from the Ministry of Justice which was in France at the same time to study French courts and their prison system. Some observers have speculated that the group was in France for the purpose of gathering documents on the Lafayette purchases.