Campaigning in central Taiwan yesterday, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) stopped to pray at the Matsu temple in Peikang, Yunlin, and wished the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) election success and prayed for better times for the county.
But the ex-KMT chairman was harassed by Ho Chen-sheng (何振盛),the New Party's deputy secretary general and a legislative candidate, and a group of his supporters who threw eggs at Lee while he was speaking at a rally near the temple.
Hundreds of supporters had swarmed into the temple to see the former head of state. Lee paid tribute to the goddess by offering her flowers and fruit.
"The Matsu goddess rarely lets me down, she helps me realize all my wishes," Lee, a devout Christian, told the rally of thousands of supporters afterwards.
Without directly naming KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰), Lee said in the past he had given his prayers for "someone, but this time I am not praying for him anymore, because he is hopeless."
Regardless of Lee's backing, Lien lost the presidential bid last year, coming in a distant third. Lien and Lee went separate ways as a result.
"Today I asked the Matsu goddess's blessing for TSU candidate Li Chien-sheng (
"I also asked Matsu to give Yunlin County a better future. I hope its agriculture can do better, and that the county can become an industrial region so as to have more job opportunities and end the people's suffering," Lee said.
Lee told the audience, most of them farmers, not to worry about the impact on agriculture after Taiwan's accession to the WTO.
Lee noted the government had been prepared for this day for a long time, and urged the government to prepare NT$100 billion to help farmers with the transition.
Five minutes after he delivered his speech, Ho and his supporters threw eggs at Lee. Although they missed their target, the assailants were immediately sought by the crowd, and were taken away by the police.
Lee appeared undisturbed by the incident, telling the crowd "not to mind such a trivial thing."
Earlier in the day, Lee stopped for dinner at the residence of Chang Jung-wei (張榮味), the Yunlin County magistrate who is seeking a second term.
Lee praised what Chang had done for the region in his two years in the post, saying "everybody should support him because he has done a great job."
Li was also in attendance at the meeting. Li, a county councilor, used to be Chang's close aide.
Lee's appearance at the residence has attracted enormous media attention because Chang is a KMT member and is known for having deep connections with organized crime.
Chang and Lee have had close ties for a long time.
Given Chang's strong showing in the polls, most party leaders have tried to win his support.
On Monday, Chang and Lien shared the stage at a campaign rally in Yunlin.
* The former president stopped at the Matsu temple in Peikang and asked for the goddess' blessings for the TSU and the county.
* Lee urged the county's farmers not to fear WTO entry.
* Lee said he had once given his prayers for ``someone'' else, but would do so no longer, in a not-so-veiled reference to KMT Chairman Lien Chan.
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