Kaohsiung City Councilor Jane Lee (李眉蓁), Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) mayoral by-election candidate, plagiarized 96 percent her master’s thesis, Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine reported yesterday, causing uproar in political and educational circles.
While a previous report claimed that part of Lee’s thesis, An Analysis on Trade between Taiwan and China, was taken from work by Overseas Community Affairs Council Minister Tung Chen-yuan (童振源), Mirror Media claimed that 96 percent of the thesis was plagiarized.
The report was a “blatant act of political manipulation,” Lee said, adding that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) deserves public scrutiny and criticism.
Lee’s comments referred to doubts voiced about President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) doctoral thesis ahead of the Jan. 11 presidential election.
Kaohsiung City Councilor Wu Yi-jheng (吳益政), the Taiwan People’s Party candidate, said that National Sun Yat-sen University, where Lee obtained her degree, should conduct an investigation.
The city government should then thoroughly debate the incident after the by-election, Wu said.
Former vice premier and DPP candidate Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said that Lee should offer some clarification on the matter to uphold the university’s reputation.
The public is concerned about Lee’s integrity, Chen’s campaign team said, adding that Lee’s responses had provided no answers.
Despite the revelation, the DPP would gladly turn the focus back to the by-election, even though Lee’s platform resembles that of former Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), it said.
An investigation is under way and outside experts are conducting a four-month review, the university said yesterday.
If the allegations prove to be true, the university would revoke Lee’s degree, it added.
Digital comparison of theses had not been adopted when Lee graduated, leading to this quandary, university president Cheng Ying-yao (鄭英耀) told the Central News Agency by telephone yesterday.
Last semester, the university administration adopted measures to prevent similar incidents — amending the school’s regulations for managing theses, prohibiting paper copies and no longer allowing graduates the option of making their electronic thesis inaccessible to the public.
DPP spokeswoman Yen Juo-fang (顏若芳) called on KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) comment on the issue.
A comment by KMT Cultural and Communications Committee deputy director-general Huang Tzu-che (黃子哲) that “if she [Lee] plagiarized, she would have plagiarized the entire thesis, not just four pages” showed that the party might have been previously aware of the accusations, Yen said.
KMT deputy secretary-general Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) said that the party welcomed the investigation, but called on the public to adopt the same standards across the board.
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