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James Huang not on Singapore envoy shortlist: FM Lee

by October 11, 2016 General

By Yuan-Ming Chiao ,The China Post
October 12, 2016, 12:08 am TWN

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Foreign Minister David Lee confirmed Tuesday that James Huang was not on the shortlist to become Taiwan’s next envoy to Singapore.

Lee told reporters before entering a legislative interpellation session that former Foreign Minister Huang “was not on the list of candidates” under consideration for the post, describing reports to the contrary as “rumors circulated by the media.”

Lee said that the final selection would require the approval of both Taiwan and Singapore.

During a brief interpellation session recess, Lee said the selection process was “complex,” even when just considering the Taiwanese side.

The new envoy would require approval from the premier, review by the Examination Yuan and would be submitted to background checks.

After this, the nominee would still require approval from Singapore.

Under questioning by legislators, Lee said the search process was still underway.

He said it would take at least another month for the government to finalize and publicize its choice.

An unnamed foreign policy professional cited by the Chinese-language United Evening News said Singapore had been angered by leaked media reports of Huang’s appointment, particularly as Taiwan had not consulted them on the choice.

Another factor behind Singapore’s alleged displeasure was Huang’s tenure as foreign minister from 2006 to 2008, which included a controversial attempt to win diplomatic recognition from Papua New Guinea.

A bank account established in Singapore was used to transfer USD$30 million intended to finalize the deal, which eventually fell through.

The money was not returned to Taiwan by Papua New Guinea.

Kuomintang Legislator Chiang Chi-chen suggested the potential response from China, with whom Singapore maintains close ties, also played a role in the city-state’s coolness toward Huang.

The legislator said Huang’s role as director of the New Southbound Policy Office — President Tsai’s policy tool for ending Taiwan’s overreliance on China — may be interpreted by Beijing as Singapore allowing the office to be based in the city-state.

“Once we have a confirmed candidate, we will make the announcement,” said Presidential Office Spokesman Alex Huang.

He denied an earlier local media report suggesting the Tsai administration had decided against Huang’s appointment during a meeting at the Presidential Office on Sept. 13.