Fri, Nov 26, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Lee Teng-hui discusses love, death

TRUE FEELINGS In an interview with TVBS, the former president talked about losing his son, as well as his take on romance and moulding his wife to his own design


It was his reading of the Book of Job in the Bible that gave him the strength to deal with the grief of losing his only son, but the memory still makes him weep in his heart, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said in a TV program on Wednesday.

"Keeping the sorrow bottled up in your heart does not make you stronger," Lee said.

"It is important to put grief behind you and go out into the world to help others. I have no complaint against God for what happened, but since I was placed on this earth, I have a duty to carry on with his life," Lee added.

Lee talked about love, life, personal loss and his life's mission in the TVBS program True Feelings (真情指數) on Wednesday.

In this unusual insight into the private feelings of the former president, Lee spoke about dealing with the pain of losing his son to cancer, his love for his wife, his belief in serving his country and his indifference to how he will be regarded by future generations.

The loss of his son Lee Hsien-wen (李憲文), who died of nasopharyngeal darcinoma at age 32, is an issue the former president rarely mentions in public.

On the program, Lee also recalled the ways in which he toughened himself as a young man, volunteering for service in the infantry so that he would be on the front line of any conflict and to conquer his fear and confusion in the face of death.

He said only if leaders have experienced hardship will they understand the hardships of ordinary people.

When the interview turned to his love life, Lee said he had only ever been in love once, and that was with his wife.

He said that because of the conservatism of the times, it was not until after he had been engaged to Tseng Wen-hui (曾文惠) that their relationship developed, largely through exchanging opinions about what they had been reading. While studying abroad, he naturally met other women, but he never forgot that his wife was waiting for him back home.

"A relationship doesn't really need that much romance," he said.

While romance might not be a priority, Lee said he is partial to molding others, and said that Tseng sometimes got annoyed with his efforts to mold her to his own design.

Lee said that the qualities he most appreciated in his wife were her dependable and cautious nature, which did not change even after he became president.

As a young man, Lee had considered becoming a minister of the church and a painter, but finally decided to study agricultural economics because he felt it was a subject that would enable him to do the most good for Taiwan. Lee said that becoming president was an accident of history.

As for what he wanted to be remembered for, Lee said he hadn't really thought about the question.

"They should just forget it. It doesn't matter," he said.

Lee said his mission was simply to help make Taiwan a "normal" country and that he would continue to work toward the goals he had pursued as president.

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