Thu, Jan 08, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Alliances to protest over Diane Lee

‘LAYING SIEGE’ Local alliances said that from tomorrow, they would surround the legislature around the clock until Legislator Diane Lee is relieved of her position

By Flora Wang, Ko Shu-ling and Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Members of the Taiwan Association of University Professors and other pro-independence groups protest outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday to demand swift action on the case of Legislator Diane Lee’s alleged dual nationality. They plan to mobilize crowds to blockade the legislature starting tomorrow if the case is further delayed.


Pro-localization groups said yesterday they would protest at the legislature tomorrow to vent their anger over what they called the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-dominated legislature’s partisan handling of Legislator Diane Lee’s (李慶安) suspected US citizenship.

The KMT caucus drew criticism for blocking a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus proposal during Tuesday’s plenary session that sought to unseat Lee. Although the KMT agreed with a DPP motion to move the proposal from slot No. 47 on the plenary agenda to the top of the list, the KMT later proposed referring the proposal for further cross-party negotiation instead of immediately calling for a vote on the issue.

The KMT caucus said the legislature should not handle the motion before Feb. 1 — the deadline for Lee to present documents to prove her loss of US citizenship.

However, the KMT’s move was interpreted by the DPP as an attempt to shield Lee. The DPP caucus protested the move by immediately withdrawing from all negotiation sessions with the KMT.

Tomorrow’s demonstration, co-sponsored by the DPP, the Taiwan Association of University Professors, the Taiwan Calling for Referendum Amendment Alliance, the Taiwan Teachers’ Alliance and other pro-localization groups, will continue around the clock until Lee is relieved of her legislative position, organizers said.

Taiwan Association of University Professors chairman Tsai Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) said protesters would assemble in front of the legislature at 9am tomorrow. During the “siege,” Tsai said protesters would block the legislature’s entrance so that legislators would only be able to get in but not out of the legislature.

Tsai said the organizers had laid down basic rules for the siege, which are protesters should not enter the legislature, hurt anyone, oppress anyone, retreat or hit back in response to provocation.

Lee has been the center of a dual-citizenship controversy since March last year when the Chinese-language Next Magazine alleged that she still holds valid US citizenship.

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

In a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs late last month in reply to Taiwan’s inquiry on the citizenship status of all sitting legislators, the US State Department said that Lee “has previously been documented as a US citizen with a US passport and that no subsequent loss of US citizenship has been documented.”

Lee, however, insisted she automatically lost her US citizenship when she was sworn in as a Taipei city councilor 14 years ago.

Lee yesterday accused the DPP of trying to resolve the controversy through “political means” before the Feb. 1 deadline.

Lee told a press conference yesterday that the DPP’s claim that the US had completed a review of nullification of her citizenship was “seriously misleading.”

She showed the press a copy of a letter she said she received from Edward Betancourt, director of the US State Department’s Office of Policy Review and Interagency Liaison on Tuesday.

“It said: ‘Any reports that Ms Lee’s case has been closed are not accurate,’” she said in English.

Lee said the office would also contact her as soon as the State Department finishes its review of documents proving the loss of her US citizenship. Lee, her office and her lawyer did not provide individual copies of the letter to reporters at the press conference.

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