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Premier rejects veteran affairs minister's resignation

2017/10/12 21:06:06

Veteran Affairs Council Minister Lee Hsiang-jow (李翔宙)

Taipei, Oct. 12 (CNA) Veteran Affairs Council Minister Lee Hsiang-jow (李翔宙) said Thursday he was resigning over a spat with opposition Kuomintang lawmakers, but Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) has rejected the resignation, according to a Cabinet spokesman.

Following a legislative hearing in which Lee and the KMT lawmakers got into a heated exchange over his party affiliation, he held a press conference to announce that he was resigning as head of the Veteran Affairs Council.

However, Premier Lai has declined to accept Lee's resignation, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said.

The issue arose from an exchange between Lee and two KMT legislators during the legislative hearing earlier in the day.

Asked by KMT Legislator Chiang Chi-chen (江啟臣) about his party affiliation, Lee said he was member of the KMT between 1969 and 2016 but was now an independent.

In response to a follow-up question by Chiang, Lee admitted that he had relinquished his KMT membership to take up the post as head of the Veteran Affairs Council in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.

Later in the hearing, another KMT lawmaker Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) asked Minister Lee if he had given up his KMT membership because the party's ideology conflicted with the expected administrative neutrality of his post.

When the minister responded that he thought party affiliation would affect the discharge of his duties as a government minister, Lee Yen-hsiu said that if he had abandoned his political ideas for the sake of a government post, then she could not respect him.

Minister Lee then became agitated, saying the lawmaker's comments were an insult to him and his family.

At the press conference later in the day, the minister said he had worked for 50 years as a public servant, had benefited greatly from the country and wanted only to give back by offering his expertise and experience.

Meanwhile, Presidential Office spokesperson Sidney Lin (林鶴明) said the government hoped to continue to recruit and retain capable people to serve the country and that they, as well as political appointees, would be given the respect they deserve.

(By Ku Chuan, Lu Hsin-hui and Evelyn Kao)