|Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for National Party List
|Nationality|| South Korea
|Political party||New Zealand National Party|
Melissa Lee (Korean: 이지연) (born circa 1966) is a New Zealand politician. She was elected to the House of Representatives as a list MP for the National Party in the 2008 election. She is currently Parliamentary Private Secretary for Ethnic Affairs under Judith Collins.
Early life and career
Lee was born in South Korea and grew up in Malaysia before moving to Australia and then to New Zealand in 1988 with her family. She has a MA Hons (First Class) in Communication Studies. She spent twenty three years in journalism including a five-year stint at the Sunday News and writing for numerous publications including the New Zealand Herald and The Listener. She was also the producer of the TV magazine series, Asia Downunder.
Member of Parliament
|Parliament of New Zealand|
|2011 – present||50th||List||34||National|
In November 2008, Lee became a list MP in the New Zealand parliament. Her maiden speech included sections in English, Māori, and Korean. In English, she mentioned crime, education, and anti-Asian racism issues in New Zealand. In the Māori section, she mentioned the history of Māori first coming to New Zealand by canoe from Hawaiki and compared it to her own migration to New Zealand by aeroplane. Near the end of her speech, she thanked, in Korean, all the people that had given her support "simply by virtue of [their] shared heritage."
Lee is the second Korean, and first Korean woman, to be elected to a non-Korean national legislature. The first Korean to be elected to a foreign national-level office is Jay Kim, who was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1992.
Allegations were made in May 2009 that her production company Asia Vision had spent New Zealand on Air money making a promotional video for the National Party ahead of the 2008 election. Lee called the allegations "ridiculous", saying that all work on the video was done by volunteers. The Green Party referred the video to the Electoral Commission, saying that it should have been declared as an election expense. She was later cleared of misuse of funding by an investigation conducted by New Zealand on Air.
Lee used NZ$100,000 of contingency funding to increase the markup for Asia Downunder in violation of her contract with New Zealand on Air, which she described as "an innocent error".
In April 2011, Lee courted controversy when, after she had made a speech supporting the controversially rushed through copyright law 92A, it was later discovered that hours earlier she had tweeted "Ok. Shower... Reading ... And then bed! listening to a compilation a friend did for me of K Pop. Fab. Thanks Jay." which appears to be in direct contradiction of her stance on law 92A.
Mt Albert by-election
On 16 April 2009, Lee announced her candidacy for the National Party nomination in the Mount Albert by-election 2009. and subsequently defeated previous local candidate, Ravi Musuku, to win selection on 4 May 2009.
On 13 May, Lee told a candidates' meeting that the SH20 Waterview Connection could divert criminals from South Auckland away from the electorate. Lee apologised the next day, saying "if South Auckland people (find) my comments offensive, I apologise. It wasn't about them. It was about criminals." Prime Minister John Key later said the remark was a "stupid statement to make". Later that day she apologised again saying, "I apologise unreservedly for the comments I made regarding South Auckland... I sincerely regret my remarks."
In the by-election, Lee attracted only 3,542 votes, coming a distant second to Labour's David Shearer with 13,260 votes. In the 2011 election she increased her electoral vote and the party vote came within 150 votes difference between National and Labour but failed to take the seat for a second time; However on 20 December 2011 John Key announced she, alongside John Hayes would be appointed a Parliamentary Private Secretary, a role that had been in disuse for several years; she was Appointed to the portfolio of Ethnic Affairs with regard to the heavy workload of Judith Collins being appointed Minister of Justice.
- "Melissa Lee". Members of Parliament: Current MPs. New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Melissa Lee - Biography". New Zealand National Party. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
- Trevett, C. (2009-01-27). "New voices: Brendon Burns, Melissa Lee, Steven Joyce". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
- Farrar, D.P. (2008-12-10). "Praise for maiden speeches". Kiwiblog. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- Zwetsloot, J. (2008-12-22). "Melissa Lee - first Korean member in New Zealand's parliament". Korean Culture and Information Service. Retrieved 2009-05-14.[dead link]
- "Aussie MPs Penny Wong, Kate Ellis and Melissa Parke in Spanish web poll to find world's most beautiful female politician". Australian Associated Press (News Limited). 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
- Larrosa, MC. "¿Quién es la política más linda del mundo? (Who is the most beautiful politician in the world?)". Listas. 20 minutos. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- Martin Kay (15 May 2009). "Lee gaffe sets her poll chances back". scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Lee cleared of misuse of funding claims". New Zealand Herald. 2009-05-21. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
- Young, Audrey (2009-10-13). "Lee firm's $100,000 error". www.nzherald.co.nz. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
- "Lee's speech to NZ parliament supporting law 92A". 15 Apr 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- "Lee tweets of listening to compilation". 15 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-14.
- Keall, Chris (15 April 2011). "Melissa Lee, you appear to be a pirate". National Business Review. Retrieved 15 April 2011.
- "Battle for Mt Albert begins". NewstalkZB. 19 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- "Manukau mayor accepts Lee's apology for 'regrettable' remarks". The New Zealand Herald. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
- "Lee issues full apology". 14 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Melissa Lee|
- Official website
- Melissa Lee - MP Profiles - NZ National Party
- - New Zealand Parliament - Lee, Melissa