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Interior Minister Lee resigns from position

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Executive Yuan spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) last night confirmed speculation of a Cabinet reshuffle, announcing that Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) will resign from his post.

Sun said that as Lee has received notice from National Taiwan University saying that he would be required to return by March if he wanted to keep his tenure, Lee spoke with Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) over the matter last Thursday, saying that if the government wants him to continue serving as the interior minister, then he will officially quit his job at the university; otherwise he would return to the world of academia.

Sun said Jiang had informed President Ma Ying-jeou of the situation yesterday afternoon, and met Lee over the matter later in the day.

Lee Refuses to Take Minister-without-portfolio Position

The spokesman said Jiang invited Lee to continue working for the government as a minister without portfolio; however, Lee reportedly said if he could not serve as interior minister, then he would rather return to the university.

At around 9 p.m. last night, Ma reportedly held a meeting with Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Jiang over the issue. At around 11 p.m., the Executive Yuan confirmed Lee's decision to step down.

Although both Jiang and Lee had previously denied holding grudges against each other, speculation has been ongoing since Lee's attempt to handle the Cingjing land over-use issue last November.

Given that the current National Science Council will be converted into the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) next Monday, and as the Cabinet has not yet publicly named the head of the MST, there has been speculation that Jiang would make an announcement today or tomorrow.

Minister without Portfolio Simon Chang (張善政) has been seen as a hopeful to take the position, however, Chang recently told local reporters that he is “happy” doing his current job as a minister without portfolio.

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In this picture taken yesterday, Premier Jiang Yi-huah, left, talks at a hearing at the Legislative Yuan while Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan stands by his side. (CNA)

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