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

The next evening when cable TV stations aired the image of Tu, Cheng conceded he is not good at recognizing people.

"After strenuous recollecting, Cheng concluded it is Tu, not Twu, who [harassed him] the other night," Lee told a news conference on Oct. 5.

She and Cheng then took a deep bow to show their regret for putting Twu and his family through the emotional ordeal.

The lawmaker attributed her bungle mainly to misleading information supplied by witnesses involved. Cheng, on the other hand, blamed Tu for failing to come forward and vindicate Twu earlier. Tired of media inquiries, he has closed down his dumpling shop.

"The store, which may seem insignificant to others, is all I have," Cheng said.

Tu was given a major demerit and switched to a non-supervisory position.

Lee, who has since doffed her grandstanding, is now facing a libel charge and possibly having to shell out NT$50 million in compensation.

The melodramatic debacle has substantially dimmed her political star, pundits said.

With a squeaky-clean image and high popularity, she had been widely considered a promising candidate for a Taipei mayoral run in 2006.

In April last year, her former independent colleague Lo Fu-chu (羅福助) was suspended from the legislature for six months for punching her and pulling her hair on the legislative floor.

"This time, Lee should volunteer to be punished to set an example," TSU lawmaker Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) said.

Lee, 43, first entered politics in 1994 when she won a berth on Taipei City Council. Four years later, she joined the legislative race, winning a seat representing the capital city's southern district.

Some linked her electoral success to her national name recognition gained through working as a reporter and anchorwoman for Chinese Television System.

Others, however, ascribed her smooth career to her privileged background.

Lee's father, Lee Huan (李煥), once served as premier, education minister, senior presidential adviser, and KMT secretary-general, among his long list of credentials Her deceased mother Pan Hsiang-ning (潘香凝) was a former tenured National Assembly member.

In addition, Diane Lee's three siblings all have served in different government posts.

Four-term PFP Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華), 54, is one of Diane Lee's two brothers. He chaired the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee before launching his political career.

In Aug 1993, Lee Ching-hua co-founded the New Party with then-KMT lawmakers Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康), Wang Chien-shien (王建火宣), Yuk Mu-ming (郁慕明), Chen Kwei-miew (陳癸淼), Lee Sheng-feng (李勝峰) and Stella Chou (周荃).

The KMT splinter group is known for bashing former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and promoting unification between Taiwan and China.

Just days before the 2000 presidential poll, Lee Ching-hua quit the New Party to back independent runner James Soong (宋楚瑜). A week earlier, his sister just broke ranks with the KMT for the same reason.

Lee Ching-chu (李慶珠), elder sister of Diane Lee, was a key staffer for the National Youth Commission and Overseas Chin-ese Affairs Commission in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Aggressive and overbearing, she was disliked by many colleagues.

Her thesis with which she passed the 1988 civil service exam was later found to be a piece of plagiarism and led to her downfall. The scandal was exposed by then-DPP legislator Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), now the nation's president.

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