Sun, Nov 27, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Former president Lee urges Tsai to lead Taiwan without fear of Beijing

WORK HARDER:Bankruptcy, corruption and policy disputes are holding Taiwan back, Lee said, adding that Tsai must address the concerns of the public

By Su Fang-ho and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Former president Lee Teng-hui raises his fist while addressing the annual meeting of Taipei senior high-school alumni associations.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday followed up on his recent comments about President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) cross-strait policy by reiterating his position on ending the “status quo” with China, saying that “Taiwanese understand that the nation has to walk its own path without fear.”

The statements came in the wake of his recent interview with Japan’s Sankei Shimbun, in which Lee attributed Tsai’s fall in popularity polls to her stance on maintaining the so-called “status quo” in relations with China, which Lee said is a deviation from popular sentiment.

“Taiwan is Taiwan, how can it maintain the ‘status quo’ with China? Taiwanese are opposed to that,” Lee said on the sidelines of an event in Taipei.

Presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏), who also attended the event, said that 70 years ago there were only three independent nations in Asia and the rest were colonies, whereas today there are more than 20 sovereign nations in the region.

“Only Taiwan’s sovereignty is unclear,” Koo said.

If Tsai wants to talk about “maintaining the ‘status quo,’ then she should lay out a plan for the future,” Koo said, adding that failure to do so would be irresponsible.

As for his comments made in the same interview with the Sankei Shimbun, in which he said Tsai lacks courage and decisiveness, Lee said he was not criticizing her, but rather encouraging her to work harder.

Lee said that many problems remain unsolved, citing the lapses in Mega International Commercial Bank’s (兆豐銀行) internal management and controls exposed by the New York State Department of Financial Services’ announcement in August and a US$180 million fine of the bank’s New York branch for breaches of the US Bank Secrecy Act, pension reform disputes, labor disputes and the recent dissolution of TransAsia Airways Corp (復興航空).

Lee said problems such as those with TransAsia and Mega Bank are due to the handling of banking and financial matters by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) officials installed in their posts during the former administration, adding that Taiwan’s problems cannot be solved until these issues are dealt with.

In response to media queries on the Tsai administration’s performance over the past six months, Lee said the government is not handling the issues the public expects it to deal with, citing a drop in Tsai’s approval ratings from 50 percent to about 30 percent.

“[Tsai] must be careful in regard to the issues I just mentioned, otherwise her approval ratings will drop further. If she is not careful, she could end up like the South Korean President [Park Geun-hye],” Lee said.

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