Mon, Feb 28, 2005 - Page 3 News List

For Koo, the outsider's role is a natural one

By Lindy Yeh  /  STAFF REPORTER

National Policy Advisor Alice King, former president Lee Tung-hui, former Taiwan Solidarity Union chairman Huang Chu-wen and Senior Advisor to the President Koo Kwang-ming, from left to right, join hands during a fund-raising dinner for the ``Hand-in-hand to protect Taiwan'' event on Jan. 11 last year.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏), dubbed "the Godfather of the Taiwan Independence Movement," has been the maverick of the Koo family all his life.

Unlike his half-brother Koo Cheng-fu (辜振甫) and his nephew Jeffery Koo (辜濂松), who have enjoyed privileged status with both the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, Koo Kwang-ming has chosen the dissident's role.

He was a political outcast during the Martial Law era and is now an outspoken critic of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) willingness to compromise when faced with strong political opposition.

The death of Koo Cheng-fu, the nation's former top negotiator with China and the leader of the Koo's Group, was front-page news last month. Jeffery Koo, chairman of the Chinatrust Group, has served as ambassador-at-large for both the KMT and DPP governments and as the government's special economic envoy to Japan.

Koo Kwang-ming was invited to Chen's second inauguration ceremony last year. He threatened to stand up and leave the ceremony if Chen reiterated the so-called "four noes" pledge in his address. But he stayed seated, even though Chen implicitly implied that he would keep his "four noes" promise.

"My pals all laughed that I had swallowed my words. But since Chen did not directly mention the `four noes' and since he was speaking in Mandarin Chinese when mentioned that part, I failed to understand his point due to my poor Mandarin ability," Koo said.

Last year, Koo Kwang-ming told Chen in person that he would resign as senior adviser to the president because he had decided to buy ads in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Taipei Times urging the US to scrap its "one China" policy.

"I told the president I wanted to resign because I didn't want to trap him into an embarrassing situation with my ads," Koo Kwang-ming said. "But the president declined my resignation and told me that the president's senior adviser also enjoys freedom of speech."

He has again offered his resignation to the president to show his disagreement with Chen's 10-point consensus with People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜). He is also considering leaving the DPP. Chen has not accepted his resignation.

"The president hopes to continue communicating with him [on this matter]," Chen Wen-tsung (陳文宗), director-general of the Presidential Office's Department of Public Affairs, said yesterday.

Koo Kwang-ming earned the enmity of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and the two men were on the outs for 12 years. They reached a rapprochement only after Lee's term was over.

In 1990, when Lee first ran for the presidency on his own, the president was still elected by the National Assembly.

"I saw Lee on TV bidding for those old men's support. I felt so disgusted that I wrote an aggressive article in the magazine I had created to lash out at him. I called him `a collaborator of the dictators' and the `Taiwanese people's shame.' The article antagonized him so much that he cut off relations with me," Koo Kwang-ming said.

After his retirement, Lee once went to the Tamshui Golf Cub to play golf. As club president, Koo Kwang-ming had to be there to receive Lee.

"As soon as he saw me, he greeted me by calling me `Mr. Koo.' Immediately, we laughed together and forgot our feuding," he said.

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