The China Post news staff
TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Chen Shui-bian illegally had copies of secret diplomatic documents made so that he could leave with them after retiring next week, a magazine has alleged. Chen’s aides have already made copies of the classified documents, but the Presidential Office’s disciplinary department, deeming it illegal, has blocked them from being delivered to the president, Next magazine reported in its latest issue. The Presidential Office did not respond to the magazine’s report, but the United Evening News cited sources with the president as claiming that Chen would want the copies for writing his memoirs. According to Next, Chen, soon after the Papua New Guinea diplomacy scandal broke out on May 5, instructed his aides to make copies of all classified documents sent to him from important figures from other countries. The aides, from one of the Presidential Office’s departments, thought it a violation of the rules. Although the president has access to these documents, he is not allowed to make copies that he can take away. The president heaped pressure on the aides, and eventually the disciplinary department, which oversees all the cases of corruption and breaching of rules inside the Presidential Office, was alerted. Although the aides have already prepared a set of copies that Chen has asked for, the documents have yet to be delivered to the president, pending a final decision by the disciplinary department. The disciplinary department has also issued a memo to all presidential departments, warning all staffers not to make copies of documents or take any of them away from the Presidential Office.
The magazine also claimed that Chen has been shredding loads of documents at the presidential resident ahead of handing over power to President-elect Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang. Ma is set to be sworn in on May 20, and Chen is supposed to hand over power, as well as all relevant documents to the successor. But the United Evening News claimed that the team of staffers from both sides assigned to handle the handover has so far not documented any records from the immediate offices of Chen, Vice President Annette Lu, and the president’s three top aides. These documents, concerning closed-door talks and other secret matters, have never been filed in the presidential archive system, the paper said. The paper said the progress of the handover has been “completely empty.” But Wang Yu-chi, the designated presidential spokesperson of the Ma administration, said the handover progress has been smooth. He said the handover is built on mutual trust, and he did not know how Next was able to obtain information for its report about Chen copying classified documents. The United Evening News noted that there is no specific law governing how the handover should be conducted. It will be the second time for Chen to hand over his authority to Ma.
In the 1998 Taipei mayoral election, Ma defeated the re-election seeking Chen. Ma was elected president on March 22 this year by a landslide victory over former Premier Frank Hsieh of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.