Sat, Sep 22, 2001 - Page 1 News List

KMT breaks it off with Lee Teng-hui

MEMBERSHIP REVOKED With the two sides failing to see eye to eye on the party's policies, the KMT has decided that it can no longer tolerate its former chairman's dissent

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

KMT disciplinary committee director Chen Keng-chin announces that the party has revoked the membership of former chairman Lee Teng-hui yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

After months of hemming and hawing, the KMT yesterday officially called it quits with its estranged former chairman, Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

The party yesterday revoked Lee's membership, saying he violated party rules.

KMT members have been upset with Lee's carousing with the Taiwan Solidarity Union, a rival political group. They're also infuriated with his criticism of the party.

Lee himself is angry with the KMT's infidelity to the pro-Taiwan and localization policies that he worked to implement during his 12 years in power.

Chen Kang-chin (陳庚金), director-general of the party's Evaluation and Discipline Committee, said the group had tried everything to avoid kicking Lee out of the party.

But the KMT had to go forward with its long-contemplated move, saying "the situation has proven to be irreversible despite all the efforts that have been made."

Chen also said that the KMT had to break off its relationship with Lee for the good of the party. "Any party with organization and discipline can never tolerate malicious defamation made against it by its members," he said.

Chen said committee members attending yesterday's meeting agreed that Lee had committed "severe violations" of the party's charter. Lee has betrayed the party's resolutions, blemished its reputation and harmed the party's interests, Chen said.

Huang Ta-chou (黃大洲), Lee's former student and a committee member, stayed clear of yesterday's meeting.

Huang said he didn't agree with Lee's recent conduct, but added that it was inconvenient for him to express any opinion on the matter in light of his relationship with Lee.

Lee's support of the TSU has been seen by the KMT as an open challenge to the party. The former president has said the TSU's ideals are consistent with his own, and that he'll do everything possible to help the new political party achieve victory in the year-end legislative elections.

During a Taichung rally on Sunday, Lee even challenged the KMT to kick him out of the party, but he denied he was the one that needed discipline.

Instead, Lee said KMT members who have strayed from the anti-communist path and pandered to leaders in Beijing should be punished first.

Lee's Sunday remarks were made in response to a letter the KMT sent to him two days earlier, in which the party urged him to quit on his own accord if he "doesn't identify with the party's ideals."

The letter was written after attempts to meet with Lee in person failed.

According to the KMT's definition, a "revocation of membership" is a lighter punishment than "expulsion."

Those who have their membership revoked can have their membership restored one year later. Members who are expelled are not allowed to rejoin until two years after their ouster.

Lifetime membership in the party runs NT$10,000.

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), Lee's hand-picked successor, said yesterday that he would respect the decision of the Evaluation and Discipline Committee.

"The party has its rules, and we have to act according to the system," Lien said.

Lee is the first former KMT chairman to be ousted from the party in its 107-year history, though he's not the first party leader to get the boot.

In 1995 -- under Lee's leadership -- the KMT revoked the membership of two vice chairmen, Lin Yang-kang (林洋港) and Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村), for stumping for New Party candidates.

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