Sun, Jan 05, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Lee fond of Chiang, TSU legislator says

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

In an about-face on his feelings toward his old boss, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) praised the late president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) as one of the founders of Taiwan's democracy.

"In Lee's soon-to-be-released memoirs, he remembers Chiang as the nation's `pioneer of localization and democratization,' and himself as only a follower," TSU Legislator Cheng Chen-lung (程振隆) quoted Lee as saying yesterday.

Cheng, who claimed to have discussed the content of the memoirs with Lee, said the public has misinterpreted a recent remark Lee made about Chiang.

"What he tried to say was that Chiang's bringing in native Tai-wanese talent to the government showcased his sincerity in caring about and respecting Taiwan rather than a trade-off of Taiwanese people's hearts," Cheng said.

While talking to supporters in Ilan County on Dec. 22, Lee urged the public not to allow the DPP to suffer defeat at the hands of the KMT. Lee said Chiang had sought to buy people's hearts in an effort to consolidate his power by extending favors to Taiwanese and recruiting them into the government.

In the early 1970s, then-premier Chiang carried out a policy to recruit a large number of younger Taiwanese politicians into the KMT and local government, which was then dominated by old-guard KMT exiles from China.

Academia Historica is in the process of sorting out the diaries Lee wrote during his time as vice president under Chiang.

"Lee was particularly impressed with Chiang's respect for Taiwanese talent and culture," Cheng said.

Cheng pointed to the Formosa incident, in which many pro-democracy activists were jailed by the KMT regime, as an example. Cheng said that Chiang repeatedly requested that Lee personally handle the matter, including the release of jailed dissidents.

Another example cited by Lee in his memoirs, Cheng said, is Chiang personally inspecting a kitchen to see whether the Taiwanese food being prepared by his chef was authentic for his Taiwanese guests.

Cheng said that Lee recorded his daily interactions and conversations with Chiang and had originally planned to let his daughter compile the material for posthumous publication.

However, Lee changed his mind and decided to publish the work in April because he said the public seems to have misunderstood what he said about Chiang.

Another reason, Cheng said, is that the KMT has steered away from Chiang's path and nearly turned itself into a communist party.

"When Chiang was the party leader, he listened to the voices of grassroots members, but now the KMT is run like a dictatorship," Cheng said.

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