Sun, May 09, 2004 - Page 1 News List

The KMT party-state is dead: Lee

LAST LEGS The former president said the current leadership of the KMT was the last residue of the bad old days and that it would survive only a few months


With the re-election of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) party-state edifice had collapsed, allowing the shadow cast upon Taiwan by the Chinese civil war to finally lift, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said yesterday.

"The cancelation of the Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion (動員戡亂時期臨時條款) in 1991 signified that Taiwan no longer treated the People's Republic of China as a rebellious entity," Lee said. "But Taiwan didn't walk out of the shadow of the civil war until the March 20 election, when the KMT's party-state came to an end."

Lee was speaking at a seminar organized by the Taiwan Advocates think tank at Chunghsing University. Around 1,500 people packed the school's auditorium to hear the last of three seminars attended by Lee discussing the ramifications of the presidential election on the country's legal system and democracy as a whole.

Lee said that although the "Peace Revolution," or the process of peaceful democratization Lee advanced during his 12-year presidency, had contributed to the gradual erosion of the party-state structure, there remained a residue of that edifice, namely the people who were in power at that time and who remained powerful now.

"The post-election instability represents the final struggle of these party-state remnants to survive," Lee said.

However, Lee assured the audience that the battle for political survival by KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) would not last much longer -- probably "a few months."

Lee also criticized the recently formed "Democratic Action Alliance" (民主行動聯盟), which includes prominent film director Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢) and veteran political commentator Nan Fang-shuo (南方朔). The alliance accuses Chen of using populist methods to instigate ethnic confrontation and warns of impending tyranny.

"Some people use the slogan of `new democracy' to smear Taiwan's existing democracy and vilify this new majority leader as a populist," he said. "They lay claim to the only objective and truly democratic position, but this does not stand up to scrutiny in a democracy. I believe the Taiwanese people, who have experienced democracy, won't be manipulated by these politicians."

Lee said the election showed that Taiwanese identity had emerged as a mainstream mode of thought, and based on this consensus, he urged the public to help bring about a solid majority for those who identify in this way in December's legislative elections, bolster the process of referendum and support the rewriting of the Constitution.

Political commentator Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), also speaking at the seminar, said Chen's re-election meant that Taiwan had emerged as a successful and unique model for the third wave of democratization.

He said that the nation had successfully prevented an ancien regime from staging a counterattack, while many other new democratic countries, such as those in eastern Europe, had failed to do so.

Ruan Ming (阮銘), a visiting professor at Tamkang University, said the election failure of Lien and Soong did not result from ethnic disputes between Hoklo people (commonly known as Taiwanese) and Mainlanders; rather, it was because Lien and Soong had taken the wrong direction in their campaign by not recognizing the significance of Taiwanese identity.

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