Mon, Oct 27, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Lee urges public to build a nation

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday said Taiwan needs to enlarge its civil society in order to cultivate a public that has the self-determination to build its own nation.

Lee made the remarks at the ceremony to mark the establishment of the Taiwan Association of Civil Society, a non-profit private organization founded by a group of university professors and young academics to promote the public's civil awareness and Taiwan's national identity.

Lee said that Taiwanese people were deprived of the right to self-governance during the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime's decades of authoritarian rule and therefore Taiwan has been slow to form a civil and democratic society.

"Many Taiwanese people were born with the belief that they were destined to be subjected to other people's ruling," Lee said. "Actually, there should be no such a thing. People are the most important element in composing a country. However, now in Taiwan, the phenomenon that people are the subjects of feudal rulers still exists.

"Such is the lack of the people's civil awareness," Lee said.

In his speech, Lee told young people to think for themselves and abandon the hackneyed slavish ideology to build Taiwan into a normal and independent country.

In related news, China condemned Taiwan's top leaders yesterday for "preaching separatism" and denounced their efforts toward a new constitution and a law allowing referendums, a move some say could produce a vote on the nation's independence.

An unidentified spokesman for the Chinese Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs office issued the comments through the official Xinhua News Agency and singled out President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) for criticism.

"Chen Shui-bian is preaching separatism and is trying to carry out his separatist activities by making use of this referendum," the spokesman said.

The Chinese spokesman added: "The separatist activities by Taiwanese independence elements directly endangers the basic interests of Taiwanese compatriots, and it is a disaster for Taiwan.

"Activities like this cannot be tolerated by the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation," the spokesman said.

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