Thousands of supporters greeted former president President Lee Teng-hui (
"Go for it, Lee Teng-hui" and "Long live Taiwan" the crowd shouted, with supporters carrying banners and placards packing the airport's arrival hall on the first and second floors. "Implement the special state-to-state cross-strait relations to save Taiwan," one of the banners read.
Lee and his wife Tseng Wen-hui (
"Let's all have confidence in our Taiwan. We, Taiwan, are getting stronger and stronger," Lee said, his voice roaring from a handheld megaphone.
"Let's all give our government another two years to do their best," Lee yelled, with the loud cheer of his supporters nearly drowning him out.
Among the crowd, there were many members from several pro-Taiwan groups, including the Southern Taiwan Society (
Noting the political significance of Lee's return, local media kept a close eye on who was present last night to welcome home the former president.
KMT Chairman Lien Chan (
"I have a pre-scheduled economic discussion with party officials and economic experts, but I welcome him home from his long trip," Lien said.
Instead, the KMT dispatched one of its vice chairmen, Huang Jeng-shyong (
Also on hand yesterday was Deputy Secretary-General to the president Chen Che-nan (
Compared to his 1995 Cornell trip -- which had the goal of boosting Taiwan's international exposure -- Lee's trip this time more or less focused on promoting his pro-Taiwan ideology back at home.
During his stopovers in Los Angeles, Lee claimed that "as long as Taiwan's economic downturn continues, I won't retire," and said his efforts to bolster Taiwan's democracy and freedom would continue.
His remarks have left political watchers shell-shocked and many speculating on the future direction of domestic politics. There's been talk Lee will back a group of pro-Taiwan legislators to support the DPP, though the former KMT chairman says he has no intention of forming a new political party.
Now that Lee has returned, political watchers will be keeping a close eye on future developments.
A pro-Lee faction organized by one of Lee's right hand men -- Huang Chu-wen -- reportedly will register itself as a new political party by the end of this month, and the group will then announce its list of slated legislative candidates. The group intends to back President Chen Shui-bian (
In addition, Lee is expected to face down KMT heavyweights who, on Monday, threatened to have his party membership revoked.