Sat, Oct 25, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Party chiefs offer Chiang family their condolences

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday sent his condolences to the family of Soong Mayling (宋美齡), also known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek and instructed Taiwan's representative office in New York to help arrange her funeral.

"Upon hearing news of Madame Chiang's death, both President Chen and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) expressed their condolences," said Presidential Office spokesman James Huang (黃志芳).

Soong was the widow of former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).

Considered by many at one time as one of the most influential Chinese women of the 20th century, she died on Thursday at her home in New York at the age of 105.

"President Chen has instructed Presidential Office Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) to be responsible of providing related assistance and arrangements for the family," Huang said.

"Chen also instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to dispatch Taiwan's representative to the US, Chen Chien-jen (程建人), and the director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office's Manhattan branch, Andrew Hsia (夏立言), to Soong's residence and send condolences on behalf of the president and the Taiwanese government," he said.

Soong lived the last years of her life in seclusion in New York, returning to Taiwan for brief visits in 1986, 1988, 1991 and 1994.

The Presidential Office will set up a committee to deal with matters relating to Soong's funeral and other arrangements, Huang said.

"In line with past custom for important national leaders and their spouses, we will conduct Madame Chiang's funeral in manner fit for a former first lady," he said.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) announced that they would jointly set up a task force to help Soong's family arrange her funeral and relevant matters.

KMT Spokesman Alex Tsai (蔡正元) said that, from yesterday until tomorrow, the KMT would fly its party flag at half-mast as an expression of condolence for Soong.

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), who is in Los Angeles, has instructed the former top Taiwanese representative to London, Tzen Wen-hua (鄭文華), to New York to express the party's condolences.

PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) also expressed his sympathy for the Chiang family on behalf of his party.

"In her lifetime, Madame Chiang made a remarkable contribution to the nation's diplomacy and was dedicated to children's and women's affairs," James Soong said, adding that his party would also fly its flag at half-mast in tribute to the former first lady.

Acknowledging Soong Mayling's contribution to the country, the Democratic Progressive Party issued a press release expressing its sorrow over her death.

The National Women's League of the Republic of China (中華民國婦聯會), a women's organization founded by Madame Chiang in 1950 in Taipei, said yesterday it would prepare a room today at its headquarters for mourners to pay tribute to her.

A press release from the league said that its vice chairwoman Cecilia Koo (辜嚴倬雲) would tonight fly to New York to meet with Madam Chiang's family.

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