Letter: Frank Murkowski disputes story in New York Times

The New York Times article on “The Grisly Death of Cecilia Chang” of St. John’s University in New York warrants my response:

First, as a former Chairman of the Subcommittee of Pacific and East Asian Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the early 1980s, I had numerous contacts with government and private individuals who had interest in the region. I have continued to support the advancement of democracy in Taiwan and the right of the people of Taiwan to define their own identity, free from any outside influence.

The Times  states that I was among more than two dozen members of Congress who had visited or given talks in Sun Yet Sen Hall. I have no recollection of giving any such talks.

In 2003 I did write a letter to Taiwan President Chen Shui Bien, urging Taiwan to continue the financial support for St. John’s. The president and his wife visited Alaska while I was governor. He was in Anchorage for two days and we extended our hospitality. At no time did I discuss with President Chen financial support for the university.

The Times states that Dr. Chang had offered both Senator Murkowski and me honorary degrees. I never received such a degree.

I have no knowledge of being asked to write a letter supporting an immigration application for a Mr. Wang You-Theng and feel quite sure no such letter was written.

I can only assume that the New York Times article gathered its information from a journal of some sort, but the facts are as I have presented them. I recall visiting St. John’s only twice — the first time to help my granddaughter move in to her dorm in 2004, and the second time to join with her parents at her graduation in 2008.

At no time did I participate or have any knowledge of soliciting for a scholarship at St. John’s for my granddaughter.

— Frank Murkowski

former U.S. senator,

former governor

of Alaska