Taiwan leader files defamation suits against radio host

During interpellation, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsu Tain-tsair asked Chang if the finance ministry's National Taxation Bureau retreats when handed tax evasion tips on "big figures." Hsu listed President Ma Ying-jeou (pictured), Lien and pro-unification social commentator and former lawmaker Li Ao as "big figures."

TAIPEI - Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou on Tuesday filed defamation lawsuits against a radio host for alleging that he accepted illicit political donations from a company implicated in food safety scandals.

Ma is seeking compensation of Tw$10 million (S$417,000) and printed apologies in four major newspapers from Clara Chou in a civil defamation suit, his lawyer Hung Wen-jun told reporters outside Taipei district court.

He also filed a criminal aggravated defamation suit against Chou since she "continues to make the same remarks concerning the case even though relevant persons have made many clarifications or even filed lawsuits against her", Hung said.

Chou accused Ma of accepting under-the-table funds totalling Tw$200 million to act as the "guardian" of food giant Ting Hsin, which has faced widespread public outrage and an island-wide boycott of its products following several food safety scandals.

Ma firmly rejected the allegation, saying his government has fully investigated the company's alleged involvement in the scandals and indicted 57 people so far.

Chou could face a maximum two-year jail term if convicted of aggravated defamation.

The ruling Kuomintang party and a businessman have also filed lawsuits against Chou this month over the alleged political donations.

Ting Hsin, which owns the instant noodle brand Master Kong that is popular in Taiwan and China, has been implicated in three food safety scandals since late 2013.

In the latest case that surfaced in October, its subsidiary Ting Hsin Oil was accused of selling oil intended for animal food, which is banned for human use, as regular lard and cooking oil.

That claim led to hundreds of tonnes of products being pulled from shop shelves.