Thu, Jan 01, 2009 - Page 3 News List

KMT agrees to Diane Lee’s withdrawal

‘INDIVIDUAL CONDUCT’ The Evaluation and Discipline Committee unanimously approved her decision to withdraw from the party, but named no punishment

By Ko Shu-ling and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday agreed to let Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) withdraw from the party over her controversial dual-citizen status, but stopped short of meting out punishment to the four-term legislator it said had damaged the party’s image.

The head of the KMT’s Evaluation and Discipline Committee Juan Kang-meng (阮剛猛) told reporters after the 100-minute meeting yesterday that the decision was unanimous.

“We agree to let her drop out of the party and revoke her membership,” he said.

When asked whether the party would support a motion at the legislature relieving her of her duties as legislator or asking her to return her salary, Juan said it was beyond the committee’s responsibility to do so.

The committee also could not apologize on her behalf or ask her to apologize, Juan said, adding that their job was to “deal with her individual conduct.”

While the Chinese-language United Daily News claimed that the party had asked Lee’s father, former premier Lee Huan (李煥), to talk her into withdrawing from the party, Juan dismissed such speculation yesterday, saying that the committee was an independent body and that they did not have any personal contact with Diane Lee.

Lee sent her assistant to deliver a letter explaining the controversy to 14 committee members yesterday, Juan said. Committee members also received a copy of her party resignation announcement.

Diane Lee issued a statement on Tuesday night announcing her immediate resignation, saying she could not bear to see her party criticized by the public because of the case although the US government had not reached a final decision.

Juan said that although members had different viewpoints on the issue, the reason they agreed to accept her withdrawal was they thought she had caused damage to the party, Juan said.

“She thinks what she did has damaged the party and that she must bear the consequences,” Juan said. “The committee also agreed unanimously that her attitude and the way she handled the matter has caused damage [to the party].”

Juan said that his party responded swiftly to the controversy, adding that the legislature received the reply from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Dec. 22, and the party reached the decision yesterday.

Criticism was rife that the party reacted slowly to the issue and further embarrassed itself when Diane Lee announced her resignation one day before the meeting.

“The committee is like the party’s court of law. We take the initiative to hear the case, and she has every right to take action to defend herself,” Juan said.

The KMT caucus yesterday lauded Lee’s decision to withdraw from the party, but said that Lee should resign her position as a legislator if she does not present documentation proving that she had lost her US citizenship by the end of this month.

“With regard to Legislator Diane Lee’s case, the KMT caucus will deal with it according to the law. In other words, Legislator Diane Lee should specifically present proof of the loss of her US citizenship,” KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) said. “For her own good and for the caucus’ and the KMT’s good and for establishing a precedent [on handling government officials’ nationality status], she should make a wise decision,” Lu said.

Lu said the caucus was also opposed to the DPP caucus’ plan to have the legislature rule during tomorrow’s plenary session on Lee and KMT Legislator Mark Li’s (李明星) eligibility to serve in the legislature. The DPP had previously criticized Li, saying that Li did not give up his US citizenship until after he had assumed office earlier last year.

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