Wed, Mar 13, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Chen sees Lee in hospital, Lien and Soong skip visit

UNDER THE WEATHER Suffering from tendinitis and a chest infection, the former president will likely spend a week in hospital for treatment

By Tsai Ting-I  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) visited former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in hospital yesterday, but the leaders of the two main opposition parties were conspicuously absent.

Chen spent about half an hour with his predecessor, who was hospitalized for minor pneumonia and tendinitus on Monday evening.

According to an announcement from the Presidential Office, the visit was purely personal and Chen wished Lee a speedy recovery.

Lee and Chen have been rumored to be at odds over the government's proposed policy reversal that would allow Taiwanese chipmaking companies to set up eight-inch wafer manufacturing facilities in China.

The Veterans General Hospital said yesterday that Lee will remain in the hospital for a week although his condition has improved considerably.

The TSU's 13 legislators also visited Lee yesterday. One of them, Liao Pen-yen (廖本煙), said that Lee looked "very well."

"Lee said jokingly that, at his age, he has no choice but to stay in the hospital," Liao said.

But KMT Chairman and former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) said that he had no plans to visit Lee, though he wished him a quick recovery.

Similarly, PFP spokesperson Hsieh Kung-ping (謝公秉) said that PFP leader James Soong (宋楚瑜) was "busy" and had no plans to personally go to the hospital.

Both Lien and Soong are former Lee proteges.

Lien was widely seen as Lee's anointed successor when Lee chose him to be premier and his vice presidential running mate in 1996.

But the two leaders had a falling out after Lien's humiliating defeat in the 2000 presidential election, when Lien accused Lee of not helping him enough during the campaign.

The KMT expelled Lee from the party in September last year because of his open support for the TSU.

Soong was appointed secretary-general of the KMT and nominated as the KMT's candidate for Taiwan provincial governor by Lee in 1995, a post he subsequently secured.

But their relationship soured after Lee decided to downsize the Taiwan Provincial Government through a constitutional amendment in 1997.

It then became publicly acrimonious when Soong insisted on running for the 2000 presidential election as an independent after Lien was selected as the official KMT candidate.

The Veterans General Hospital said in a statement that Lee's heart function is perfectly normal.

The former president underwent minor heart surgery in Japan in 2000.

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