Chiang Ching-kuo remembered in books

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Jan 13, 2018 - Page 1

On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the death of former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), pan-blue heavyweights yesterday commemorated what they called “the most-loved president of all time” with the publication of new books.

People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), who served as the late president’s secretary for 14 years, yesterday unveiled his book titled A Report by Chiang Ching-kuo’s Secretary (蔣經國秘書報告) at a news conference at the Evergreen Laurel Hotel in Taipei.

The 350-page book is a collection of historical documents and oral accounts of Chiang’s leadership style and ideals while he served as premier and president.

Soong became Chiang’s secretary after completing his doctorate in political science at Georgetown University in 1974, on the recommendation of then-Government Information Office director Frederick Chien (錢復), he said.

“That was a tumultuous time for the nation, having been expelled from the UN; severing diplomatic ties with Japan; and the oil crisis,” Soong said.

Chiang had three important principles: doing the right thing and doing things right; knowing how and what to do; and knowing for whom you are doing what you do, Soong said.

Months prior to the lifting of martial law, Soong said it became clear to him that the nation was heading toward the establishment of the Democratic Progressive Party, which took place in 1986.

Chiang’s first reaction was “arresting people solves nothing,” Soong said.

Chiang personally communicated with several Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) heavyweights before he ordered the lifting of martial law, because the party was divided on the issue, Soong said, adding that there were dissenting opinions even after Chiang’s order arrived at the Executive Yuan for approval.

Soong’s book also expounds on former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who spent more than six years by Chiang’s side serving as his English-language secretary from 1981.

Chiang needed a temporary English-language secretary because Soong took a three-month trip to the US funded by the Eisenhower Fellowships, he said.

“Soong’s US trip unexpectedly paved the way for the rise of a politician,” the book said.

Meanwhile, Ma yesterday attended the launch of a book written by Wu Chien-kuo (吳建國), who is a former member of the now defunct National Assembly member, which offers insights into Chiang’s strategic planning.

Chiang had made four important contributions to Taiwan, including the Ten Major Infrastructure Projects in the 1970s, which boosted Taiwan’s economic growth, and the lifting of martial law in 1987, which paved way for the nation’s democratization, Ma said at the launch in Taipei.

Chiang’s other contributions were the lifting of a ban on veterans visiting China in 1987, which was a catalyst for warmer cross-strait ties, and his good policies and love for his people, Ma said.