Taipei mayor called as witness in tycoon vs pundit lawsuit

Taipei mayor called as witness in tycoon vs pundit lawsuit
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je yesterday appeared at the Taipei District Court as a witness to a lawsuit between Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou and local political pundit Clara Chou.

The reasons behind the lawsuit can be traced back to one of Ko's interviews in January this year, when the mayor claimed that a "certain entrepreneur" had donated NT$300 million (S$13 million) in political contributions to his Taipei mayoral election opponent Sean Lien.

Following the publication of the mayor's statement, Chou made the accusation on national television that Ko's alleged businessman is none other than Gou.

In response, Gou appointed a lawyer to sue Chou for offences against personal reputation and credits, and is seeking civil compensation of NT$10 million.

Ko was named as a witness by Chou during the course of the ongoing case and the mayor was summonsed by the court yesterday.

Cross examination was conducted behind closed door, but sources say that Ko's said before the court that he had obtained information claiming Gou had provided Lien with political contributions after hearing it from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming.

Upon learning the information, Gou's attorney reportedly demanded a meeting between Ko and Ker for the sake of clarifying the case.

Gou's Donated not to Lien but to the Taipei Expo Park: Ker

In related news, Ker held a press conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday to respond to Ko's statement in court. According to Ker, the mayor's statement was false, and he had in fact told the mayor that Gou had instead donated NT$300 million to the Taipei Expo Park.

According to Ker, Ko approached him in July or August last year and asked the caucus whip to introduce the then-mayoral candidate to Gou. Ker said that he did not fulfil Ko's request after deeming it inappropriate.

Ker went on to say that Gou later told him during a social meeting that Ko's office had called the business tycoon in hopes of setting up a meeting. However, as Gou is a self-proclaimed supporter of the Liens and the Kuomintang (KMT), Ker said that Gou had asked him to decline Ko's invitation on Gou's behalf.

While relaying Gou's response to Ko, Ker said that he had given the mayor an example of Gou's loyalty to the KMT by talking about the business tycoon's NT$300 million donation to the Taipei Expo Park.

Ker also said that should the court summons him as a witness, he would provide a truthful account of the case.

Sean Lien's Staff Speaks out against Mayor

Yesterday, Sean Lien's spokesman Chien Chen-yu also came forward to mock and speak out against the mayor following Ko's appearance in court.

Chien paraphrased an oft-heard quote of Ko's which advises against rumours, stating that it is very unfortunate that Ko started a rumour based on hearsay.

Chien said that Lien hopes that Ko will be more careful when speaking in the future, and that Lien has been and will continue to declare all of his political contributions according to regulations.

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