Thu, Apr 20, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Maori king ‘useless’ comment probed

By Lu Yi-hsuan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Rangihima Whakaruru, chief of staff to New Zealand’s Maori king, yesterday talks to reporters during a visit to the legislature in Taipei.

Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times

Lawmakers yesterday demanded that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs punish diplomat Kay Lin (林恩真) for allegedly calling the Maori king “useless” in Mandarin at a banquet last year, a comment overheard by the king’s Chinese-fluent secretary.

The events were brought up by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩) during a question-and-answer session with Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) at the legislature in Taipei.

On Dec. 12 last year, Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) invited Maori King Tuheitia Paki’s private secretary, Rangihiroa Whakaruru, to a dinner attended by Lin, who serves as deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Chen said.

Chen said that when Su asked Lin whether she had met the king, Lin replied in Mandarin: “The Maori king is useless. He is not supported by the majority of Maoris. The new prime minister [of New Zealand] is gutless and he does not support the king either.”

“Rangihiroa Whakaruru, who understands Chinese, was insulted by Lin’s comments,” Chen said.

In spite of Lin’s “senseless remarks,” she is scheduled to become the nation’s deputy representative to Australia next month, Chen said.

Chen also alleged that the ministry refers to the Maori as “natives” in the literature its overseas embassies distribute, calling the expression offensive.

Lin would be “scolded,” but she had accrued enough seniority for the assignment and he believed the gaffe was “unintentional,” Lee said.

Whakaruru, who attended yesterday’s legislative meeting, confirmed hearing a Taiwanese official calling the king “useless” at the dinner, but said that whether an apology should be issued, as Chen demanded, is “an internal Taiwanese affair” that he is not disposed to comment on.

Following the question-and-answer session, the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee passed a resolution demanding that the ministry complete a full disciplinary investigation within a week and punish Lin if she were found to have made the comments.

The ministry later promised in a statement to comply with the resolution and to strike out all references to “natives” from its documents.

Additional reporting by CNA

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