Sat, Jan 10, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Protesters call for Diane Lee sacking

By Jimmy Chuang and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Police stand guard outside the legislature in Taipei yesterday in response to a number of pro-localization groups, including the Taiwan Association of University Professors, who urged members of the public to join them and surround the legislature.

PHOTO: CNA

Independence supporters surrounded the Legislative Yuan yesterday, protesting what they called the body’s inaction against former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) over her alleged dual nationality.

The protesters insisted that the legislature formally remove Lee from her post, in addition to her resignation a day earlier.

Lee is suspected of holding US citizenship in violation of the Nationality Act (國籍法), but has said that she automatically lost her US citizenship when she was sworn in as a Taipei City councilor 14 years ago.

She has been under increasing pressure since the results of a US government citizenship check last month said that Lee “has previously been documented as a US citizen with a US passport and … no subsequent loss of US citizenship has been documented.”

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday joined the protesters, asking Lee to repay her salary from 1994 to the present day.

“Her resignation does not mean she has been relieved of her position,” DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said. “The DPP request reflects public opinion.”

Echoing Lai, DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) urged prosecutors to seize Lee’s assets as soon as possible.

“Lee has earned more than NT$100 million [US$3 million] since her first term as a Taipei City councilor. Her assets report says she possesses more than NT$100 million and prosecutors should immediately freeze her assets so she will not be able to avoid paying back all the money,” Chen said.

Lai said that the DPP legislative caucus urged Lee to return her salary and accept full legal responsibility for her actions.

Tsai Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴), chairman of the Taiwan Association of University Professors, which organized the demonstration, said resignation and dismissal were legally different. Only if Lee were stripped of her post would the government be able to reclaim the salary she received during her time in public office, Tsai said.

Despite yesterday’s low turnout, Tsai said the demonstration would continue until the legislature “fulfills its duty.”

A crowd began to form in front of the Legislative Yuan at around 10am. The police issued three warnings asking the crowd to disperse as the protest had not received prior approval. Minor clashes then took place as officers began to remove the protesters.

The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday confirmed it had issued a summons to Lee, asking her to report to prosecutors at 10am on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, inside the pan-blue dominated legislature, lawmakers voted 54 to 26 against the DPP’s motion to prioritize its proposal that the legislature relieve Lee of her seat.

The legislature also voted 58 to 26 against another DPP motion that it unseat KMT Legislator Mark Li (李明星).

Asked for comment, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said the Legislative Yuan could not unseat Lee because she had tendered her resignation and had been removed from the legislature’s list of lawmakers.

He added that the legislature had also submitted related documentation to the Central Election Commission.

KMT caucus secretary-general Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) shared similar views.

“Their target no longer exists [in the legislature]. How can the legislature unseat [her]?” Chang asked reporters.

KMT Legislator Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who doubles as a KMT vice chairman, questioned the legitimacy of the demonstration.

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