Tabloid suggests Labour Minister caught in extramarital affair

Police officers stand guard in front of Taiwan's parliament.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A Next Magazine (壹週刊) report released yesterday suggested that Labor Minister Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) may be involved in an extramarital affair with his assistant and close confidant.

Both Pan and his assistant Wang Mong-chun (王孟純) stepped forward on separate occasions yesterday to vehemently deny the tabloid's claims.

According to the report, Pan was spotted making three late-night visits lasting one to two hours to Wang's residence over a course of a week. In particular, Pan preferred to travel to Wang's home on Wednesday nights by bicycle. The website of Apple Daily (蘋果日報), an affiliate of the magazine had featured a video of Pan cycling to Wang's residence captured by reporters with very suggestive commentary.

In addition, the report provided an account of Pan's lengthy professional relationship with Wang, which began during her undergraduate studies the Chinese Culture University (文化大學) when Pan had been a professor of labour relations. According to the report, Wang was handpicked to serve as Pan's assistance six years ago, and had quickly risen to be a trusted confidant.

The report suggested that Pan and Wang's professional relationship as anomalously intimate, recounting numerous occasions when she was given rides in the state vehicle. Pan and Wang were also spotted on a number of meetings over meals outside of office hours, said the report. A source close to the labour ministry stated that Pan had requested for Wang's participation on numerous state visits, decrying such activities as honeymoons on the taxpayers' dime.

Meanwhile, Pan rebuffed the tabloid report, stating that the allegations are unfounded, while lauding Wang's abilities as a consultant, at a public engagement yesterday afternoon. Pan stated that with her expertise in union relations Wang is an invaluable addition to his staff. Pan also mentioned that he will consult with legal counsel to deliberate possible repercussions against the tabloid publication, while hinting of an internal probe to verify whether the leak had originated from the ministry.

Wang also claimed that she cannot fathom how the tabloid could produced its false allegations, during her appearance at the Labor Ministry yesterday afternoon. According to Wang, Pan is a respected mentor for her, adding that Pan had attempted to serve as her matchmaker after finding out that she had been single for about six years. Report indicate that Wang had issued a statement confirming that she will be taking legal actions against the tabloid for libel.