Mon, Mar 19, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Writer Li Ao dies at 83 after battle with brain cancer

By Lin Hui-chin  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Li Kan, right, son of the late Taiwanese writer Li Ao, speaks to the media yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, accompanied by Wang Shu-chun, director of the hospital’s Neurological Institute. Li Ao passed away yesterday from brain cancer.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Author, politician and historian Li Ao (李敖) yesterday passed away peacefully after a battle with brain cancer, Taipei Veterans General Hospital said.

Li was 83 years old.

He had sought treatment at the hospital in July 2015, saying he had an unsteady gait, and was later diagnosed with brainstem gliomas.

His condition had stabilized after initial treatment, but he was readmitted to hospital several times last year.

In October last year, he was hospitalized for pneumonia, but a subsequent magnetic resonance imaging brain scan showed that his tumors had worsened.

Li began receiving targeted therapy in November and his condition improved.

However, the therapy started to lose effect in January and his overall condition began to deteriorate, the hospital said.

His son, Li Kan (李戡), yesterday said his father had remained strong and resilient during his illness, adding that he discussed his disease with medical personnel jokingly.

Li Ao’s family would make his funeral as simple as possible and does not plan to hold any public remembrance activities, Li Kan said.

As a versatile writer with a piercing and critical style, Li Ao was best known for his studies on history, in addition to his political commentaries, biographies and literary works.

During the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) authoritarian regime, he was regarded as an intellectual heretic who fought for freedom of speech and publication.

His 96 works were banned by the KMT during the Martial Law period.

“Li Ao epitomizes a wish, an action, a symbol of rebellion for people in that era,” said Chen Fang-ming (陳芳明), a professor at National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature.

“The era’s intellectuals were eager to watch his performance, but none dared to join his company,” Chen said. “He was more critical and radical than any self-esteemed leftists.”

“Without Li Ao, Taiwan under [the KMT’s] authoritarian regime might have had a harder time,” he added.

Li Ao worked for a while in real estate, served as editor-in-chief of Wen Hsing (文星) magazine, founded a publishing house named after himself, was a TV host and taught history at Soochow University.

He ran for president in the 2000 election on the New Party ticket, and was elected as a lawmaker in 2004.

Li Ao is a legend among his contemporaries, former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday, adding that he had “lost a good friend.”

Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said he admired Li Ao’s polished, critical and solid writing, and that he inspired rebellious movements against the government.

People First Party caucus whip Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) expressed his sorrow over Li Ao’s death.

The Executive Yuan offered its condolences to Li Ao’s family.

Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said he and Premier William Lai (賴清德) served at the Legislative Yuan with Li Ao in 2004, and expressed sadness over his death.

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