Sun, Apr 06, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Lee Teng-hui offers insights on leadership

LECTURE The former president shared his views with a new generation of potential leaders on how to avoid the pitfalls of nepotism as well as the fluidity of power

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A student at the Ketagalan Academy gets an autograph from former president Lee Teng-hui during a break at the academy's inauguration ceremony yesterday. Lee was invited to give a speech on the art of being a national leader.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday broke his silence on an alleged NT$600 million (US$17.3 million) contribution to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) 2000 presidential campaign fund.

"It's another manifestation of political defamation staged by those parties that lost in the campaign," Lee said.

"How can one expect such closed-minded political parties to govern the country?" he said.

Lee made the remarks yesterday afternoon during a question-and-answer session followed by his 100-minute speech, entitled "The Art of National Leadership," at the Ketagalan Academy (凱達格蘭學校).

He was responding to allegations by PFP Legislator Chiou Yi (邱毅) that Lee had donated money from KMT coffers to Chen via Liu Tai-ying (劉泰英), former chairman of the KMT's Business Management Committee.

Lee also took the time to address the rather delicate political implications brought on by the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic. He said the government should look upon the contagion in a positive light.

"The phenomena may not be as bad as it seems because it high-lights the importance of Taiwan to gain a place in international political and medical circles," he said.

Lee was granted the honor of being the first to speak at the institution, which was launched by Chen on March 30.

The academy was set up to nurture leaders and to promote the values and achievements of the nation's democracy.

While exhorting the first enrollees of the leadership training program, Lee said that morality and charisma are the key criteria to be a sound national leader.

"By morality I mean a strong religious belief system, a will to forsake power when it becomes necessary, the courage to resist nepotism, the determination to stay away from venality, the ability to grasp the popular mood and the possession of charisma," he said.

Citing a personal experience, Lee, a Presbyterian, said that it is lonely to be a national leader and only religion can provide spiritual comfort and salvation.

"I remember one time when my family and I scaled the Kuanyin Mountain, I was overwhelmed by the loneliness when I got to the top," Lee said. "It suddenly dawned on me that the sense of loneliness is like that of being the head of state. No one will come to my rescue except for the Jesus Christ I believe in."

After taking the helm of the nation for 12 years, Lee said, he decided to pass the baton to the next generation and with no regret.

"My political tenet over the year has been that the nation, not myself nor my party, precedes everything else," Lee said. "This belief is what made me ditch the idea to run for re-election in 2000."

Lee added that the rest of the world wouldn't have noticed the nation's democratic development if the direct presidential election hadn't taken place in 1996 and that the power was peacefully transferred to the DPP in 2000.

"Power is transient. It's an objective force extended by a certain system," Lee said.

"The 5,000-year history of China has taught us that it's unwise for a politician to cling to power and believe that he is the only one who can rule a country," he said.

Referring back to the courage to stave off nepotism, Lee cited two personal examples in which he resisted the urge.

He said that when he was vice president he had dismissed a long-time aide, although he had developed an amicable working and personal relationship with the person.

This story has been viewed 3624 times.
TOP top