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September 22, 2017

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"Police-state” row festers after video footage released

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Video footage of police demanding to search Hakka Affairs Council Minister Lee Yung-te near Taipei Bus Station yesterday sparked renewed discussion over police conduct during the incident.

A video clip released Monday over the incident showed a bystander coming to the minister's defense saying that officers had acted improperly in demanding to see his identification.

"You can't just stop people. The person has to be under suspicion of committing a crime. You can't stop a random person while he's passing through demanding his papers, this isn't right," the bystander said.

The police officers defended their actions by saying there were in a public space and a designated area for conducting patrols.

"Are we supposed to wait for a crime to be committed before responding?" one of them asked the bystander.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Yi-ying, Lee's spouse, said that the incident demonstrated that police officers were not adequately trained and that their verbal justifications during the incident were "rash."

Chiu said that this was not a matter of police demanding identification from a government official, but that no one should be treated unfairly under the law.

Lee said on Sunday he had been stopped without cause by five or six police officers at a convenience store in Taipei who demanded to see his identification.

"When did Taipei become a police state? This is too much!" Lee wrote in a post on Facebook, touching off dozens of expressions of concern and surprise. He later thanked the bystander on Facebook saying that he had "not only rescued me, but also gave the police a valuable lesson."

Police responded later that he and another man (initially misidentified as a friend of Lee's) were at a bus station that was a high-risk area for criminal activity.

Both were later allowed to leave the scene without presenting their IDs after demonstrating a "positive attitude."

A spokesman for the Taipei City Government said Monday that the process was "conducted in line with the provisions of the law.

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