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Much ado about wedding of Taiwan president's daughter
Publication Date : 12-03-2013
She was once dubbed the girl all Taiwanese men want to marry.
But Ma Wei-chung, the 33-year-old older child of President Ma Ying-jeou, is taken. And true to the exceptionally low-key style of the First Family, little about it is known.
Her marriage to a bank executive first came to light last weekend, after Ms Ma held an eight-table banquet at Taipei's Grand Hotel on Saturday, creating a buzz among Taiwanese media which promptly put out reports on it.
Her husband is a banking executive who was her senior at Harvard University and the couple took their vows last year in the United States, where Ms Ma has lived and worked since her teens, the reports said, citing unnamed sources. The couple now live in Hong Kong, they said.
But exactly when the wedding took place or who the groom was, or even his nationality, remained a mystery even for the formidable Taiwan media.
"Thank you for your concern" was all Mr Ma said when he was quizzed about it by reporters on Sunday.
Ms Ma herself kept characteristically silent when she and her younger sister Yuan-chung were hounded by journalists on her way to catch a flight to Hong Kong on Sunday.
Still, her fingernails, painted an uncharacteristically bright shade of red, and a bag of what looked like traditional "wedding cakes" she was carrying were seen as signs that she did indeed hold a wedding feast.
The extreme secrecy has irked some.
"If the First Family has in-laws now, what do they work as? Do they have political background? Could their identity or background compromise the (Taiwanese) policy-making core? These factors could potentially compromise the government system or even national security," berated a commentary in China Times, a pro-government newspaper.
Opposition parties called for Mr Ma to "be answerable" for whom his daughter married, saying her residence in Hong Kong might cause problems.
Despite friendly cross-strait ties, Beijing sees Taiwan as a breakaway province to be retaken by force if necessary.
The president finally bowed to pressure yesterday.
In a statement issued late last night, the groom was identified as Mr Tsai Pei-jan, a Taiwanese who grew up in the United States and works for a foreign bank in Hong Kong.
He and Ms Ma got married in New York last year after a long courtship and they now live in Hong Kong.
"President Ma thanks everyone for their concern for his daughter's marriage," spokesman Lee Chia-fei was quoted as saying.
"He hopes the couple would be given some privacy."
Such secrecy from the famously media-shy family of the president is not out of character.
Ms Ma, who was born in the US, and her sister left for America after completing their high school education in Taiwan and rarely return.
Like their mother Chow Mei-ching, whom the Taiwanese highly regard for her frugality like wearing the same dress to two high-profile events, the sisters are known for living unostentatious lifestyles - no branded wardrobe, fast cars or flashy parties.
Both work in the arts industry after graduating with liberal arts degrees.
Both also avoid the media fastidiously and refuse to be accompanied by bodyguards.