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Mon, Oct 15, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Lee vows to carry on as Lien strikes at `an old man still talking nonsense'

TIT FOR TAT The former president said his health was not as important as that of the nation, while his erstwhile acolyte took off the kid gloves

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) continued to stump for Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) candidates yesterday.

Lee stressed that he would endure criticism and physical pain if it meant fulfilling his goal of a better Taiwan.

"With the aims of fighting for a better Taiwan and stabilizing the country's political situation, I don't mind being criticized," the 78-year-old former KMT chairman said.

"Some might say I am getting old, but the older I get, the more courageous I become," Lee said.

Lee, who was expelled last month by the KMT for his endorsement of the TSU, considered a rival political group, made the comments when he was in Taichung yesterday campaigning for He Min-hao (何敏豪), a TSU legislative candidate.

Lee reiterated that the reason he supported the TSU was because the pro-Taiwan and localization policies that he worked to implement during his 12 years in office had been abandoned by the KMT.

Another reason for his political comeback, he said, was owing to the fact that the ruling DPP had been continually stalled by a hostile, opposition-led legislature.

Attributing Taiwan's economic woes to the country's internal political discord, Lee said to those gathered at the rally that to free Taiwan from its political and economic predicaments, people must support the TSU "because there is no other way."

In response to people's concern about his ailing physical condition, the 78-year-old said that he would clench his teeth to withstand any physical problems because he has a grand idea in his mind -- to fight for a better future for Taiwan.

Meanwhile, KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) yesterday strongly challenged Lee's recent statement that the KMT is an "alien regime," suggesting that Lee is "a retired old man still talking nonsense all the time."

Refraining from using Lee's name, Lien told a separate campaign rally in Taichung yesterday that "there is an old man, [who] despite being retired, still says absurdities everyday.

"Any individual who recognizes the Republic of China [ROC] and exists under the ROC political system should be considered an ROC citizen. There is no distinction between indigenous and alien regime," Lien said.

"Any government formed under the Constitutional system should be considered our government. All of the 23 million Taiwanese citizens should be treated the same. There should not be any differences between a native or [someone else]."

Lien, Lee's former vice president, called Lee's use of "alien regime" disheartening and an "an attempt to split the country apart."

Lee and his former party split apart after the presidential election last year when Lien, the KMT-nominated candidate who came in a distant third, attempted to cooperate with pro-unificationist James Soong (宋楚瑜) -- a KMT maverick who became the founder and chairman of the People First Party -- and after the party began to court Beijing.

Lee said that the old political force still could not accept the fact that Taiwan is now governed by Taiwanese, and that they intend to go against the political mainstream.

Lee said that he cannot bear the thought of seeing Taiwan returning to "alien" rule while he is alive.

Lee has in recent weeks bitterly attacked Lien of whom Lee has said that, though he holds a PhD in political science, he is ignorant of the basic principles of democracy.

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