Sat, Dec 27, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Diane Lee’s case delayed

ELIGIBILITYLegislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng said yesterday Lee had until the end of next month to present documents proving the loss of US citizenship

By Flora Wang and Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Despite a US statement that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) still possesses US citizenship, the Legislative Yuan resolved yesterday not to rule on her eligibility to be a lawmaker until the US responded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MOFA) request for a more detailed nationality probe.

Shouting “KMT, do not cover up! Lee step down,” the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus proposed that the legislature decide Lee’s eligibility as a lawmaker.

However, the 67 legislators present at the plenary session voted 41 to 26 to reject the DPP proposal.

Vice Legislative Speaker Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) then ruled in favor of the Procedure Committee’s suggestion that the ministry urge the US to conduct a more thorough probe into every lawmaker’s US nationality status.

However, an official from the US State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs was quoted by the Central News Agency on Thursday as saying that the US considered the case closed.

Outside the Legislative Yuan yesterday morning, members of the DPP Taipei Office carried banners and demanded that Lee return her earnings from governmental posts over the past 14 years — allegedly amounting to about NT$120 million (US$3.3 million).

The legislature launched an investigation in May in response to the DPP’s allegations that Lee’s US citizenship remained valid.

The Nationality Act (國籍法) bans government officials from holding dual citizenship.

On Monday the legislature received the US reply to its investigation request and the Procedure Committee decided the next day to send copies of the reply to every lawmaker.

Although the document was labeled confidential by the legislature, DPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) publicized the letter on Wednesday, revealing that Lee had been documented as a US citizen with a US passport and that the US did not find any record documenting the loss of her citizenship.

Lee, who had been arguing that she lost her citizenship the moment she took an oath of allegiance to become a public servant in Taiwan 14 years ago, protested her innocence.

Lee said that the US State Department was still reviewing a document proving the nullification of her US citizenship.

Nevertheless, she agreed on Thursday to suspend her legislative authority and salary until the review is completed.

She issued another statement yesterday saying that she would stop attending KMT caucus meetings and stop exercising her KMT membership until the controversy concerning her dual citizenship is clarified.

KMT caucus secretary-general Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) yesterday urged the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to elaborate on the US reply and give a specific answer to Lee’s citizenship status.

KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) urged the public to wait for the result of the review.

But some KMT legislators said they did not support stalling the investigation.

“I think we all know who was right and who was wrong. Prolonging the case would have a negative impact on Legislator Lee and the KMT,” KMT Legislator Chu Feng-chi (朱鳳芝) said.

“In fact, on an occasion yesterday [Thursday], many people [KMT lawmakers] expressed objections [to how the KMT had handled Lee’s case]. They believe [the party] should decide how to deal with her as soon as possible,” she said.

KMT Legislator Ho Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳) expressed a similar view in the legislature.

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