Mon, Jan 27, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Koo Kuan-min stays the course for independence

STEADFAST The senior presidential adviser rejoined the DPP last week, but he still hopes that the country will go one step further than just maintaining its sovereignty

By Lin Mei-Chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Koo Kuan-min talks about the importance of letting the people of Taiwan decide about their future.

PHOTO: LIAO CHENG-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES

Staunch Taiwan independence advocate and senior presidential adviser Koo Kuan-min (辜寬敏) rejoined the DPP last week, asserting that his hope of establishing an independent Taiwan remained unchanged despite the DPP's embrace of the "New Middle Way."

Holding high expectations of the DPP but disagreeing with some of the party's policies -- especially the moderation of its position on the nation's status -- Ku chose to become a party member for the second time in the belief that the government would be more receptive to his advice.

To Koo, Taiwan independence remains of paramount importance.

"Nothing will be left for the DPP and for President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to accomplish if the principle of [Taiwan independence] is discarded," Koo said

Having had close ties with the DPP since the tangwai era, the 77-year-old Koo has come back into the fold to help the party must establish "a long-term regime" and because he wishes to contribute personally to the party during his remaining years.

He said the two main opposition parties have alienated themselves from the electorate -- the KMT by abandoning the Taiwan-centered doctrine of former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), and the PFP by over-relying on small handful of political stars.

"It is inconceivable that there will be a second transfer of power [next year], the next four or five years will therefore be very crucial to [Taiwan's future development,]" he said.

He said the DPP has consistently faltered when up against the pro-China forces, but he is convinced that the party will continue to rule. That's why he is particularly eager to serve.

To bolster its position, he stresses, the DPP should stick to its principle of Taiwan independence, calling it "the DPP's biggest asset."

He says he understands that Chen has to tone down his pro-independence stance to court the support of the majority, but, since China has never renounced its ambition to conquer Taiwan, "only with Taiwan's declaration of independence -- and the adoption of it as a mainstream value -- can the issue be solved," he said.

Born into one of the most prestigious families in Taiwan, Koo is the youngest son of Koo Hsien-jung (辜顯榮), who was seen by many as a collaborator for opening Taipei's gates to invading Japanese troops in 1895 to be rewarded by being made a member of imperial Japan's House of Lords in 1934.

Koo Hsien-jung began to establish a legendary saga in Taiwan.

Gaining a monopoly on salt and opium, the elder Koo made himself a prominent and wealthy person in Taiwan at that time. His residence in Lukang in central Taiwan was turned into a museum.

Koo Kuan-min's elder brother Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) serves as the head of the Straits Exchange Foundation, and has been a top Taiwanese negotiator with China.

But the two brothers have fostered different interests and chosen different political paths.

While Koo Chen-fu used to be a member of the KMT's Central Standing Committee and enjoys Chinese opera, arts and literature, the younger Koo -- who was in exile in Japan in the 1960s and early 1970s -- is a staunch supporter of independence .

He said that both his strong Taiwanese consciousness and his enthusiasm for helping the Taiwanese came from his father's influence.

The influence explains why he did not obtain Japanese citizenship, despite living in Japan for decades and having a Japanese mother.

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