The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday expressed gratitude to former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) for his public endorsement of DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), while several Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers, noting Lee’s age, suggested the 88-year-old should keep his hands out of the election and “let the people of Taiwan make the right decision on their own.”
“Many people at the forefront in politics were once under your nurturing care. You have raised their hands, seized their wrists and cultivated them,” KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said, referring to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) — who is seeking re-election — whose hands Lee raised in support at a campaign rally in the run-up to the 1998 Taipei mayoral election.
“You are now at an old age. Let go and take a rest,” Hung added.
Hung’s comment came in response to Lee’s endorsement of Tsai in Saturday’s presidential election with a half-page advertisement in seven Chinese-language newspapers yesterday.
The advertisement contained Lee’s handwritten article, titled “Give Taiwan a Chance,” which endorsed the DPP chairperson’s ability and commitment to safeguard Taiwan’s democracy, to advance the idea of tolerance to unify a divided society and to recruit talent across party lines to build an efficient government.
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said he was truly touched by Lee’s letter.
The rational — not emotional — appeals in Lee’s letter will impel voters to vote for Tsai Ing-wen, he added.
“I believe that anyone who has read the letter word-for-word will vote for Tsai [Ing-wen] and will sympathize with Lee,” Tsai Huang-liang said.
“He did not use inflammatory words to arouse voters’ emotions and the letter was not about independence or unification. Rather, he presented his appeals in a cogent, rational and sensible way,” he added.
Asked about Lee’s endorsement, Tsai Ing-wen, on the sideline of a campaign stop in Miaoli, expressed her appreciation and gratitude to “many people who had voiced their support during the campaign.”
Lee, dubbed by many as Taiwan’s “Mr Democracy,” also highlighted Tsai Ing-wen’s “female traits” namely competence, perseverance, humanity and communication skills — which he said would be needed to face the economic challenges of the new century.
The former president, who turns 89 on Sunday, repeated his plea of “abandoning Ma to protect Taiwan,” saying that one of the essences of democracy is that incompetent leaders who fail to promote public well-being must be replaced.
“There are only great people in democracy, not great political parties,” he wrote.
Lee also criticized Beijing for its two-faced strategy toward Taiwan — resorting to military threats in the 1996 presidential election and rhetorical threats this year by forcing Taipei to recognize the so-called “1992 consensus” and -Taiwanese businesspeople to kowtow to Beijing’s position.
The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) that Taiwan and China signed was not as good as advertised, Lee said, because it benefited only large corporations and jeopardized the well-being of small and medium-sized enterprises, workers, farmers and the younger generation.
“Beijing needs to realize that it is dealing with the Taiwanese people, rather than specific political parties. History tells us that China needs to engage with Taiwan regardless of who is elected president,” Lee wrote.