Sun, Jul 18, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Camps react to Singaporean official's statements about nation's insularity

CNA , TAIPEI

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday disputed remarks by a ranking Singaporean official in which he said that Taiwan's government focuses too much on domestic politics and doesn't pay enough attention to events outside the country.

Opposition parties, meanwhile, concurred with the statements made by Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍).

Lee, speaking on Friday about a trip he made to Taiwan from July 10 to July 14, said that political leaders and the media in Taiwan are preoccupied with domestic politics and have not adequately factored in vast changes that have taken place in the international situation. As such, Singapore could not rule out the possibility of a miscalculation or misstep on Taiwan's part that would have serious repercussions for Singapore and the region, he said.

Lee, who will soon assume a post as Singapore's prime minister, also said that despite pressure from Beijing about his trip, he had felt the need to update himself on the situation in Taiwan, having last visited the nation in 1992.

He also said that he would not take up a role as an intermediary in cross-strait relations.

However, Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯), the DPP's whip in the Legislative Yuan, said: "The government has made a great effort to reach out to the world and integrate Taiwan into the international community."

Investing in China is also part of the nation's global efforts, Tsai said, adding that Taiwan is also making efforts to promote its diplomacy. "These are the top priorities of the government," he continued.

He said that Lee had observed only the development of Taiwan's media and that he did not understand Taiwan's media culture.

Tsai lauded Lee for not bowing to pressure from Beijing, saying that this was evidence of friendly bilateral relations, which he said are in the interest of both countries.

Huang Teh-fu (黃德福), opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) whip in the Legislative Yuan, said that Lee's views are correct and that Taiwan's leaders should not focus only on winning votes but should think about how to rule the country and seek integration into the international community, both politically and economically.

Huang said that Taiwan, as a maritime country, cannot solve its international problems if it focuses too much on domestic issues.

Kuo Su-chun (郭素春), a KMT spokeswoman, said that the government should reflect upon Lee's remarks and observations.

The Singaporean deputy prime minister said that the pan-green camp in Taiwan is focusing on the year-end legislative elections and that he felt a stronger Taiwanese identity emerging.

Meanwhile, he continued, the opposition pan-blue alliance is preoccupied with the validity of the presidential election, the court proceedings and the investigation into the March 19 assassination attempt against President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

It may be some time before leaders and supporters of both sides focus on the longer-term position of the nation and work out strategies for the way ahead, Lee said.

Meanwhile, Hsu Yuan-kuo (許淵國), People First Party caucus whip, said that "Lee's remarks reflect the current situation."

Hsu said that Taiwan has shown scant concern about a realignment of economic blocs in the world and that it risks being marginalized.

"Political figures in Taiwan lack international perspective and the media is only interested in a war of words," Hsu said.

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