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Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen / photo: thedailystar

Mother of drink-driving victim urges Taiwan President to replace Singapore envoy

TAIPEI - The mother of a drink-driving victim protested outside the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday (4 August), demanding that the Tsai administration replace Taiwan's top envoy to Singapore after he failed a roadside sobriety test just days following his official swearing-in.

The protester is the president of Taiwan Against Drunk Driving, Emma Chen. She urged President Tsai Ing-wen to replace the top envoy to Singapore, Antonio Chiang, calling Chiang's actions "disgraceful."

Mr Chiang was caught driving under the influence of alcohol by police on Wednesday night, just days following his official swearing-in.

He failed a roadside sobriety test and was charged with an offense against public safety, leading to an apology on Thursday morning.

Mr Chiang admitted he had consumed alcohol when dining with friends earlier, in celebration of his appointment as envoy.

Mrs Chen is the mother of drunk-driving victim Tseng Yu-tzu, who was up and coming doctor at the National Taiwan University and a student of now Taipei City Mayor, Ko Wen-je. Tseng was killed in 2013, after succumbing to brain damage suffered from the accident.

Mrs Chen said that most people know that they shouldn't drive while drunk, "But our own government officials have disregarded their own actions as well."

Expressing her hopes of seeing the new government carry out reforms, Chen said that the government had to take action and eradicate the mindset among people who engage in drunk driving that they won't get unlucky and stopped by the police, or have an accident.

She also suggested that government officials who drive under the influence should be given poor performance demerits - a bid to combat Taiwan's drinking culture. "Otherwise, solely relying on legislative efforts and police sobriety tests is useless," Mrs Chen said.

Mr Chiang admitted that it was unacceptable to drink under the influence of alcohol, and said he has reflected on his actions. "I'm extremely ashamed, and I apologize," he told local media.

Presidential Office spokesman, Alex Huang, stressed that Chiang had already been penalized, amid anger from the public and Kuomintang politicians, who have also demanded Chiang's removal, saying Taiwan would "lose face" if Chiang remained in his post.

However Huang reiterated that Chiang's actions served as "a bad example" for the public.

Foreign Minister David Lee earlier said that plans for Chiang to take up his post in Singapore are not expected to be affected, he said. Lee however, also expressed his disappointment about the incident.

He also said that Singapore does not have any comment on the issue, reported the Central News Agency.

Presidential Office officials denied claims that the office had postponed Chiang's flight, saying it was always scheduled for 8 August.