Fri, Sep 02, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Lee interested in Ma meet

PERSONAL CONNECTIONS A top TSU official said the former president wants to talk with the KMT's new leader, in whom he has high hopes, but a date has not been set

BY JEWEL HUANG  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) is willing to write off unpleasant bygones with Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and may meet with the new Chinese National Party (KMT) chairman, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Secretary-General Cheng Cheng-lung (程振隆) said yesterday.

"Lee has said that it is not necessary for the people of Taiwan to support the Democratic Progressive Party. In fact, Lee is happy to talk with people who identify with Taiwan and support Taiwan's localization," Cheng told the Taipei Times.

"Of course the KMT's new chairman is no exception," Cheng said. "As long as Ma declares that he supports localization and explains his reasons, I think there is no reason for Lee not to see him."

In fact, as soon as the result of the KMT chairmanship election was announced on July 16, Lee said "everyone could work together if the KMT's new leader will return to the political line of localization," Cheng said.

Although Cheng was not willing to confirm that a Lee-Ma meeting would take place, he did not deny that Lee's office is trying to arrange a get together.

"This is not the right time for me to confirm a Lee-Ma meeting will take place, but I think the chances are quite good," Cheng said.

"I believe that Lee still has expectations for Ma," Cheng said. "Lee never really gives up on anyone and does not differentiate between politicians just because he or she is a mainlander or not."

The alleged bad blood between Lee and Ma date back to Ma's initial run for Taipei mayor in 1998 against the incumbent, Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

During one campaign rally, Lee, holding Ma's raised hand, praised him as "a new Taiwanese" and Ma responded by promising that he would obey Lee's political line. Lee's strong endorsement was seen as the key to Ma's victory.

However, the relationship between the two men deteriorated after Ma discarded Lee's political line to adhere to former KMT chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) pro-unification stance.

Cheng said that Lee believes Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng's (王金平) pro-China stance lost him the KMT election.

"Otherwise, Wang's campaign would not have been such a fiasco," Cheng said.

Cheng is one of the TSU officials who is in frequent communication with Lee, who is a neighbor in the Hong Shee Villa (鴻禧山莊) complex in Taoyuan County.

Cheng also mentioned that Lee is preparing for a trip to the US trip next month. The arrangements for Lee's US visit are a lot easier than those for his visit to Japan last December, he said.

"Lee developed many personal connections during his presidency and has been keep in touch with US officials and governors," he said.

Cheng said Lee's trip was aimed more at building up Taiwan-US relations than sightseeing. Lee plans to stay in the US for about two weeks, visiting Los Angeles, Washington, New York and his alma mater, Cornell University.

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