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May 26, 2017

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Punishment urged after Maori king called 'useless'

A ruling party lawmaker on Wednesday called on the Foreign Ministry to punish Taiwan's incoming top envoy to Australia for reportedly calling the leader of New Zealand's Maori community "useless."

During an interpellation session in Taipei, Chen Ying of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) accused Kay Lin, deputy head of Foreign Ministry's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, of making the comments at a banquet held last December in Taipei, during a visit by Maori King Te Arikinui Kiingi Tuheitia.

Lin had previously served in New Zealand for six years.

According to Chen, Lin also said during the December banquet that the king was "not supported by Maori people."

Lin is scheduled to be posted to Australia to serve as Taiwan's deputy representative there.

However, Chen called for her to be stripped of the post due to the "inappropriate remarks," which the DPP lawmaker said showed Lin was "not suitable for the post."

Asked to comment, Foreign Minister David Lee said Lin's remarks were inappropriate, but that her new assignment had already been announced and thus it was inappropriate to revoke it.

He promised to talk with Lin and caution her against making similar remarks in the future.

Rangihiroa Whakaruru, chief of staff to the Office of the Maori King, who was present during Wednesday's legislative session, confirmed to local media that he had heard Lin make the remarks in Chinese during the banquet. "It was spoken to my chief of protocol, but it was taken in a context that he didn't know any better," Whakarurucan, who understands Chinese, said.

When asked if he thought Lin should apologize over the incident, Whakaruru said he would not comment on domestic affairs of Taiwan.

The Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee ultimately passed a resolution asking the ministry to conclude its probe to the allegations by next week and punish Lin should it be confirmed that she made the remarks.

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