To avoid being a lame duck is the one major task looming for President Chen Shui-bian (
Should the people of Taiwan see no major achievements in Chen's second term in office, it would have repercussions for the presence of a pro-Taiwan government in the 2008 presidential election, the former president said in an exclusive interview with the Taipei Times.
"Chen needs to take into account that should he become a lame duck during the remaining three and half years he has in office, it would draw criticism from the Taiwanese people, who would find the Chen Shui-bian administration unsatisfactory in that it has accomplished nothing major in terms of governance during Chen's eight years as president," Lee said.
"Should that be the case, then it would have a bearing on the continuing existence of a pro-Taiwan regime and jeopardize its chances in the 2008 presidential election," he said.
In view of mounting talks about cooperation between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the People First Party (PFP), Lee said, from his perspective as a civilian, he looked forward to reconciliation between the governing and opposition parties.
However, the DPP administration ought not to give the premiership to the PFP if it considered forming a coalition Cabinet with the party, Lee said, stating that "it would be an irresponsible move to give the PFP the premiership ? it will not be good."
In terms of Taiwan's relations with the US, Lee said that Taiwan could work to foster ties with the US through many different ways, including communication between the governments, establishing private exchanges and strengthening interaction with US think tanks as well as parliamentary groups.
Communication is important, Lee said, "so you don't leave the US government feeling that you don't tell them things, forcing them to revert to doing guesswork."
Commenting on China's plan to enact its "anti-secession law," Lee said the planned law "aims at scaring Taiwan's people" as well as "discouraging people from speaking up and speaking out for Taiwan independence."
While the content of the proposed law is yet unknown, Lee said China is selling this law to those countries that recognized China's allegation that Taiwan was part of the mainland and telling them that once the law has been enacted, they should help Beijing catch Taiwan independence advocates.
With that said, Lee stressed that "Taiwan is not part of China's territory," noting that Taiwan "needs not always operate to accommodate whatever China does or say."
Referring to the recent agreement with China on direct charter flight during the Lunar New Year holidays, Lee wondered whether this mode of cross-strait links best demonstrate international links. Going via Hong Kong seemed more like a domestic link., He said. It would have been better to route the flights via Japan, he said.
When dealing with China, one should be mindful not to fall prey to its trickery and sell out Taiwan in the process, Lee said.
On economic issues, the former president noted that there is no need for the NT Dollar to rise in value as long as China's currency does not do so.
A strong yuan will impose robust operating costs on export-oriented Taiwanese contractors operating in China, nullifying their efforts to seek cheaper production, he said.
"To a certain extent, it may be good in a way that these China-based Taiwanese businesses would start coming back to Taiwan," Lee said.
Lee also said he was eager to visit Japan again in the hope that he could experience the journey of the famous Okunohosomichi (奧之細道).
"If one says that Bushido is the traditional Japanese values of the samurai, who once ruled Japan, then the Okunohosomichi undoubtedly symbolizes Japanese attitude toward life," Lee said.
Lee said, along the route, there are many temples, in which [buddhist monks] are chanting Haiku.
"I really like to visit those temples, if my health allows me in future," Lee said.