Wed, Dec 31, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Diane Lee quits KMT over dual citizenship scandal

By RICH CHANG AND FLORA WANG  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安), who has been at the center of a citizenship scandal, has quit the party. Lee issued a statement announcing her immediate resignation last night.

“With regard to the [US] nationality issue, although Edward A. Betancourt, the US State Department official in charge of citizenship affairs, sent me a letter on Dec. 4 saying that [the loss] of my citizenship remained under review, I ... cannot bear to see the KMT criticized by the public because of the case, even though the US government has not reached a final decision on the case,” the statement said.

Lee’s office said she would also cancel a planned visit to the KMT’s Evaluation and Discipline Committee today.

In March, Lee became the focus of a controversy over lawmakers holding dual citizenship after Chinese-language Next Magazine reported that she had a US passport.

In May the Legislative Yuan launched an investigation into whether any lawmakers had dual citizenship, asking for the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

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

Lee’s statement came after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators yesterday continued to hound Lee with the latest in a string of developments.

The DPP caucus on Monday released a US government document obtained from a Web site showing what it said were details of Lee’s income tax refund from the US government for this year.

Lee said that she had paid property tax and not income tax, a claim that DPP legislators yesterday rebutted, saying the documents in their possession showed Lee paid “2007 individual income tax.”

“Diane Lee should stop telling lies,” DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) told a press conference, displaying the document that she said showed Lee had paid “2007 individual income tax."

“If Lee paid property tax, why did the US government give her an extra US$300 for having a son under the age of 17?” Chiu asked, adding she had never heard of a refund for paying property tax.

DPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) said property tax in the US is a state tax, not a federal government tax. If Lee paid property tax to a state government, why did the federal government give her a tax rebate, he asked.

The DPP caucus on Monday released a US government document obtained from a Web site showing what it said were details of Lee’s income tax refund for this year.

Earlier yesterday, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) had kept a low profile yesterday when asked whether the Presidential Office and the KMT headquarters had asked Lee to withdraw from the party.

Wang was approached for comment after a story in yesterday’s Chinese-language United Daily News said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Wang and three other senior KMT officials reached a consensus during a meeting on Monday that the KMT should decide how to deal with Lee soon.

“I can’t tell you [the focus of the meeting],” Wang said.

The story quoted an unidentified source as saying that the KMT’s Evaluation and Discipline Committee might suspend Lee’s party rights after inviting her to explain the nationality controversy to the committee today.

The source was also quoted as saying that the party headquarters was also trying to persuade Lee to withdraw from the party in a bid to prevent the controversy from harming the KMT.

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