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David Lee named secretary-general to Taiwan president

Lee to succeed Su Jia-chyuan, who resigned on Sunday amid family corruption scandal

President Tsai (left) names David Lee as new secretary-general to president on Aug. 3.

President Tsai (left) names David Lee as new secretary-general to president on Aug. 3. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) appointed David Lee (李大維), former secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC), as the new secretary-general to the president on Monday (Aug. 3), just one day after his predecessor, Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), stepped down amid a corruption scandal linked to his family.

Lee, 70, has been a diplomat for the past four decades, working as Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., foreign minister, and the NSC’s top official. Lee took charge of the quasi-governmental Straits Exchange Foundation in May — a position generally believed to be outside the central political circle — but has made a return due to recent corruption charges against former and incumbent legislators as well as their aides.

At least four legislators, including Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), chairman of the New Power Party (NPP), have been accused of taking bribes from Lee Heng-long (李恆隆), former chair of Pacific Distribution, which used to be the parent company of the Pacific Sogo department stores. They are suspected of having pushed for Company Act reforms and of pressuring government officials on Lee's behalf in exchange for millions to tens of millions of Taiwan dollars.

On Sunday (Aug. 2), Su Chen-ching’s uncle, Su Jia-chuan (蘇嘉全), resigned as secretary-general to the president, a post he had held for less than three months, saying he wished to “bring no more trouble to President Tsai” and to allow the corruption probes to be carried out smoothly.

In addition to the bribery scandal linked to his nephew, Su Jia-chuan has recently been accused of misusing his previous position — legislative speaker — for private gains. Denying any acts of corruption or dishonesty during his decades-long political career, Su Jia-chuan in a statement on Sunday characterized the allegations as blackmail and slander.

Speaking on the corruption charges at a press conference on Monday, Tsai said she supports the ongoing investigation and emphasized that those who have committed wrongdoing deserve punishment.

Tsai also asked members of her administration and the ruling DPP to watch their behavior and take heed of public opinion in order not to squander trust, adding that those who seek status and fortune should explore another career path.