Kaohsiung City Councilor Jane Lee (李眉蓁), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidate for the Kaohsiung mayoral by-election, yesterday said that she would give up her master’s degree from National Sun Yat-sen University following allegations that she plagiarized her thesis.
She said she would also ask the Kaohsiung City Election Commission to remove the degree from the column in the election bulletin where candidates’ education backgrounds are listed.
The by-election is scheduled for Aug. 15 and the commission said that it was nearly finished printing the election bulletins.
However, the Kaohsiung-based university said that the Degree Conferral Act (學位授予法) has no regulations covering voluntary relinquishment of a degree.
Lee’s case is being reviewed by outside experts, it said, adding that if it is found that she breached academic ethics, her degree might be revoked.
Her thesis adviser might also be punished if a dereliction of duty is determined, the university said.
The KMT said in a statement that it supported Lee in “bravely facing” her mistake and giving up her degree.
“All political workers should examine themselves by the same standard,” the party said.
“As an academic, I cannot accept academic plagiarism,” KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) wrote on Facebook.
“This standard has never changed,” whether I was an educator, a lawmaker or the leader of a political party, he said.
“As a political worker, integrity is a standard that cannot be compromised,” he said.
National Dong Hwa University Vice President Chu Chin-peng (朱景鵬), who was a member of the oral exam committee that examined Lee’s thesis, yesterday said that he would cooperate with any investigation.
The two other members of the committee were Lin Teh-chang (林德昌), former director of Sun Yat-sen’s Institute of China and Asia-Pacific Studies, and Chao Su-cheng (趙甦成), former director of the Chinese Social and Economic Research Institute, which is affiliated to National Chengchi University’s Institute of International Relations.
Meanwhile, Huang Po-hsiang (黃柏翔), a sociology student at Sun Yat-sen, launched a petition to have the school rescind Lee’s degree if the allegations of plagiarism are found to be true.
From 6pm on Wednesday to 9am yesterday, more than 500 students and alumni at the school reportedly signed the petition.
The incident has severely damaged the reputation of the university, Huang added.
Lee on Wednesday had said she would only explain the matter if President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also clarifies controversy surrounding her doctoral thesis.
Asked for comment on the matter at an event in Taipei yesterday, Tsai said the authenticity of her thesis and doctoral degree have been verified and that her alma mater, the London School of Economics and Political Science, had also offered an explanation.
Tsai said that Lee should face the problem and clearly explain the matter.
Democratic Progressive Party spokeswoman Yen Juo-fang (顏若芳) said that Lee was trying to smear Tsai with groundless insinuations to shift the media focus away from herself.
“Why is the KMT’s mayoral candidate stooping to such a level?” Yen asked.
Additional reporting by Huang Hsu-lei, Ko Yu-hao, Jason Pan and CNA
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