Taiwan foreign ministry repeats apology for banquet gaffe

Taiwan foreign ministry repeats apology for banquet gaffe
Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lin

TAIPEI - Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) yesterday reiterated the ministry's apology for an oversight in seating arrangements that led to an unhappy evening for the general manager of I-Mei Food Co., (義美) Kao Chih-ming (高志明) , who said yesterday that he will not attend similar banquets in the future due to the incident.

Kao, who was invited to the Foreign Ministry's annual spring banquet last Thursday at the Grand Hotel, said last week that he was seated alone and spent much of the evening alone and unattended.

In a statement published by the Taiwan News, a news outlet run by his company, Kao said that in his many years of attending similar events, he has never experienced such treatment.

Kao's comment has led to the Foreign Minister's official apology for the unsatisfactory outcome and pledged not to repeat the mistake.

Several local news agencies, however, have later quoted other quests who attended the same event as saying that there was at least one other guest seated at the same table as Kao.

Asked to comment on the incident, Kao yesterday said he made the complaint not to criticise the ministry but simply to share his thoughts and his suggestions.

He said he will not participate in similar events in the future if his comment has caused too much public attention and disturbance to the ministry.

In response to Kao's latest comment, Minister Lin yesterday reiterated the ministry's apology during an interpellation session before the Legislative Yuan when questioned by lawmakers about the incident.

Lin also explained that the ministry did not intentionally leak to the press contradicting statements given by other guests who participated in last Thursday's event in an attempt to refute Kao's accusation.

The minister added that Kao's comment did not cause any disturbance to the ministry and he is willing to sincerely apologise to Kao again, pledging that the ministry will not repeat similar mistakes again.

The ministry previously explained that the cause of the incident was that Kao had been seated at the wrong table.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) had placed Kao at Table "Blue 6" with leading media figures and diplomats, according to MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (囍揅).

The I-Mei general manager had found the incorrect table "Green 6" (坐 6), which was reserved for staff only.

Because personnel had been occupied with banquet affairs, there were no other diners at the table, the ministry explained.

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