Mon, Oct 14, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Diane Lee's fall from grace

Before she got involved in pursuing justice over an alleged KTV sex scandal, the journalist-turned-politician seemed to be living a charmed life. Consistently ranked as a top legislator and considered a shoo-in for a 2006 Taipei mayoral run, she came from a privileged family, born to politician parents. But then a case of mistaken identification brought the walls tumbling down

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

PFP Legislator Diane Lee, left, accompanies her brother Lee Ching-hua and his wife while Lee Ching-hua registers for the 1992 legislative elections.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

PFP lawmaker Diane Lee (李慶安), ranked as one of the most hardworking legislators session after session, has come under intense pressure to quit her office.

Driven by self-righteousness and a hunger for the media spotlight, she mistakenly accused top health official Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) of sexually harassing another man during a KTV party on Aug 6.

The sensational allegation gripped the nation for days as Twu, acting head of the Department of Health (DOH), insisted he was innocent in one news conference after another. Meanwhile, Lee and the alleged victim, Cheng Ko-jung (鄭可榮), relentlessly demanded an apology from Twu.

Despite a lack of evidence, an overwhelming number of local Chinese-language newspapers and TV talk shows expressed sympathy for Cheng, the handsome owner of a dumpling stand.

The controversy took a dramatic turnabout on Oct 5 when Lee and Cheng, crestfallen and weary, bowed before TV cameras saying they had identified the wrong man. Just one night before, investigators had found that Twu was never at the KTV and that it was another DOH official with a similar surname -- Tu Hao-lin (屠豪麟), the department's personnel chief -- who was present at the party.

Critics have since pressed Lee to step down, calling her mistake unforgivable.

While apologetic, the two-term lawmaker has showed no intention of resigning, however.

"I will greet all criticism with a humble heart and engage in solemn soul-searching," Lee said. "In the future, I will try harder to fight for ordinary citizens who suffer injustice."

Though she struggles to appear unharmed, the political farce has seriously tainted her image as a justice fighter.

The uproar surfaced last month when the journalist-turned-politician was told by an aide that a ranking official had forcefully kissed Cheng and licked his ears during a party at a KTV in downtown Taipei.

Shocked, Lee paid a visit to the alleged victim and urged him to come forward and expose the official's misconduct.

"A man of such debase character should be booted from the government," the lawmaker reportedly told Cheng.

At Lee's advice, Cheng agreed to pen a petition letter detailing his encounter with a Mr. Twu/Tu, who a mutual acquaintance had described to him as "soon to be promoted to the leadership post" in the health department.

Cheng, who had never previously met Twu or Tu, took his harasser to be Twu.

Meanwhile, Ding Jui-feng (丁瑞豐), who had invited Cheng to the party, never corrected when Cheng and his wife referred to the health official as Twu Shiing-jer in later phone conversations.

Later, when Lee was making her own inquiries, both Ding and a couple that was also present at the party told her Twu was never at the KTV.

But since they failed to identify the man who harassed Cheng, Lee said she decided they had been "pressured to tell lies or keep quiet" and disregarded their statements.

She then went on to reject an offer by Twu to clarify the matter personally and accused Premier Yu Shyi-kun of seeking to cover up the scandal.

"Whoever tells lies should step down," the lawmaker angrily said on Oct. 3 when Twu showed up at a KTV room where she and Cheng recounted the alleged sexual harassment to the press.

Twu had roundly denied ever visiting any KTV polar in the last year and vowed to resign if it were proved otherwise. He challenged Lee to do the same and filed libel suits against her and Cheng.

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