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Taiwan President Criticized

June 12, 2000

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ A Taiwanese legislator demanded Monday that President Chen Shui-bian apologize for a youthful folly in which he helped his future wife cheat on a college paper.

It may have been an act of love, but the president’s office was blemished when Chen jokingly admitted that he wrote his wife’s university thesis 20 years ago.

``It was not funny at all. The president should apologize to the public, to students and their parents,″ lawmaker Hung Hsiu-chu told reporters.

Speaking at last week’s Taipei University graduation ceremony, Chen said he wrote the thesis of his then-girlfriend, Wu Shu-chen. Chen said half in jest that it was unlikely he would face punishment for an offense committed 20 years ago.

Chen had just earned his law degree from the elite National Taiwan University and was studying for the bar at that time. Wu _ Taiwan’s current First Lady _ eventually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in land administration from another university.

But lawmaker Hung of the opposition Nationalist Party was unmoved by Chen’s candor, saying many young people see him as their role model and his public revelation would encourage cheating in schools.

In March, the 49-year old former political activist from the Democratic Progressive Party became Taiwan’s youngest president after he broke the Nationalist Party’s 51-year old grip on power.

Chen’s office offered no immediate reaction to the lawmaker’s criticism.

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