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June 29, 2017

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Diplomat didn't call Maori king 'useless': lawmaker

By Joseph Yeh -- A diplomat accused of calling the leader of New Zealand's Maori community "useless" has rejected the claim, a lawmaker said Friday.

Chen Ying (陳瑩) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Wednesday accused Kay Lin (林恩真), deputy head of the Foreign Ministry's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, of saying Maori King Te Arikinui Kiingi Tuheitia was "useless" and "not supported by Maori people" while within earshot of the king's chief of staff Rangihiroa Whakaruru during a banquet in Taipei last December.

Lin is scheduled to be posted to Australia to serve as Taiwan's deputy representative there. Chen has called for her to be stripped of the position due to the "inappropriate remarks."

The Legislature ultimately passed a resolution Wednesday asking the ministry to conclude its probe into the allegations by next week and punish Lin should it be confirmed that she made the remarks.

Witness Testimony

Kolas Yotaka, a fellow DPP legislator, said Friday that she was present during the Dec. 12 banquet and was seated close to both Lin and Whakaruru.

Kolas, however, said she did not hear Lin make the alleged remarks.

Chen herself said she did not hear the comments but rather was informed of them by Whakaruru.

Muddying the waters further, Whakaruru originally said he heard the remarks himself but changed his story Thursday, when he said he had heard about the insults from a member of his staff who was also present at the event.

Kolas said she had contacted Lin, who swore that she had not made the comments.

Kolas said Taiwan's unique diplomatic situation already made it extremely hard for diplomats, and that incidents like this only made it more difficult.

Accordingly, Kolas said, she decided to share her side of the story in the hope of ensuring smooth Taiwan relations with New Zealand and the Maori people.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) told The China Post that out of respect to the Legislature, the ministry would not comment on the case until the probe results are reported to the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on April 26.

A diplomatic source told The China Post that even though it was believed Lin was innocent of the claims, it would be inappropriate for her to comment on the matter since she was representing not only herself but also the Foreign Ministry and the country.

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