Mon, May 03, 2004 - Page 1 News List

It's about identity, Lee tells blue camp

LOVING TAIWAN The former president said the pan-blue camp's efforts to broaden its appeal will fail unless it comes to terms with the mainstream Taiwanese identity

By Stephanie Wen  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN TAINAN

The presidential election marked the start of another stage in the development of a Taiwanese identity, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said yesterday at a seminar by Taiwan Advocates in Tainan.

Thousands of people from southern Taiwan flocked to the Tainan Municipal Cultural Center for the event, and thousands more sat outside in 32?C heat. The meeting was the second of three seminars examining the impact of the presidential election on the development of the nation's democracy and rule of law.

Lee said that, although the March 20 presidential election was seen as a victory for mainstream Taiwanese identity, "it is only the beginning of the rise of Taiwanese awareness."

He said the country still faces many tests such as the year-end legislative elections, reforming the electoral system, generating a consensus on the need to create a new constitution and the challenges coming from China.

"All these changes need the backing of the mainstream Taiwanese identity," he said.

Lee lambasted the pan-blue camp's efforts to trample the democracy and rule of law that Taiwanese have worked so hard to build.

"Not only did pan-blue resistance cause social instability, it hurt Taiwan's international reputation. It is hard to approve of putting personal power and party benefits ahead of social concerns and national image."

Lee said the blue camp has failed to examine itself critically, risking the future of its parties' development and any role they might play in balancing the nation's democracy.

Lee said that rather than nurturing a new generation or staging a revolution within the blue camp, establishing a mainstream identity should be the alliance's priority.

He added that loving Taiwan is a path that must be followed.

"It is not an election slogan," he said, but a national consensus needed for the country's development.

Loving Taiwan reflects where people stand on sovereignty, the languages and cultures of the country and where the nation's development is prioritized, Lee said, adding that these considerations are independent of ethnicity.

Narrowing Taiwanese identity to the issue of ethnicity shows either a lack of understanding of the issue or an intentional change of focus, he said.

Lee said Taiwan has yet to become a normal democratic country.

"Taiwan's democracy and rule of law still require care and consolidation," he said. "Both the mainstream Taiwanese identity and the spirit of loving Taiwan need to be enhanced."

Former judge Su Chun-hsiung (蘇俊雄) said the blue camp's commitment to democracy must be examined.

"Only if the spirit of democracy develops can Taiwan become a democratic and peaceful society," Su said.

According to Su, the blue camp keeps saying it wants justice, but can't look at things rationally, doesn't want to accept recommendations by experts and doesn't understand the sprit of democracy.

Su referred to the contentious 2000 US presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush and called on the coalition to follow Gore's lead by respecting the rule of law and valuing social peace.

"Even though everyone has a right to his or her opinions, we should exercise rationality," Su said.

Political commentator Paul Lin (林保華) said China was obviously unhappy with President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) re-election.

"China has ceased interaction with Taiwan, but isn't that a good thing?" he said.

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