Taiwanese lack vision for future: Lee

HISTORY LECTURE: The former president had some stern words for Taiwan's people, urging them to look to the US for inspiration on how to forge their identity

By Lee Hsin-fang  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN WASHINGTON

Wed, Oct 19, 2005 - Page 1

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) on Monday lauded the ideals that founded the US, saying it was a shame that Taiwanese lacked such vision for the moment.

Lee was in Washington, after traveling from New York and Philadelphia, to visit the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and the US National Archives, which houses the original draft of the Declaration of Independence.

Standing across from the White House, Lee shared his thoughts with the media after touring the memorial.

"It is not only the Declaration of Independence but also the US Constitution that helped the US break from Great Britain. The Constitution, compiled and written by the democratic pioneers of the US, is tremendously far-reaching and philosophical and heralded a new direction for the US," Lee said.

"Taiwan does not necessarily have to pursue independence as long as it is seeking to normalize itself. However, Taiwan has yet to become a nation that has normalized. We all have to do all that we can to achieve this goal," he said.

Americans should be proud of their national heritage, Lee said, adding that the documents enabled the American people to understand the importance of national identity.

However, he said, it was a shame that Taiwan has failed to make its own nationals understand what direction the nation is pursuing.

Lee said the ideals and philosophy of the founding fathers of the US made the nation great.

But he said that Taiwanese are yet to fully identify with their own nation and do not fully understand their own history.

As a result, Taiwanese do not know how hard their ancestors worked to make the nation what it is now, he said.

Lee said that Taiwan, like the US, is an immigrant society and that its people are determined to pursue freedom. What matters the most, he said, is to allow people to understand the importance of national identity and the direction the nation is attempting to forge for itself, he said.

Lee also told the media that this was not the first time he had visited Washington as he had traveled in the area a couple of times when he was studying in the US as a young man.