Sat, Nov 11, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Lee's open letter draws praise, criticism

SPLIT OPINION While the pan-blues lauded Lee Yuan-tseh's letter for echoing their sentiment, the pan-greens blasted the Nobel prize winner for being biased and unfair

By Flora Wang and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Former Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh's (李遠哲) open letter to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was the center of political discussion yesterday with the opposition parties praising him for his "morality" and courage while the other side panned him for being biased, or worse, an "opportunist."

In his letter issued on Thursday from Paris, Lee said that the president should carefully consider whether he should tender his resignation to safeguard the nation's democracy.

Lee also wrote that the "the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) must choose to prioritize between their party and the entire country."

In response, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday urged the DPP to take Lee's comments seriously and support the third recall motion.

"Although Lee issued the letter a little too late, we applaud him for possessing such morality and courage ... He made the remarks because of disappointment with the DPP's continued support for the president. The [DPP] party should take his words seriously," KMT Spokesman Huang Yu-cheng (黃玉振) said at the party's headquarters.

Huang said the vote on the recall motion on Nov. 24 would be the DPP's last and best chance to separate itself from the president, and urged the party to reconsider the issue and support the motion with courage.

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) also welcomed Lee's comments.

Soong urged former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) and DPP Taipei mayoral candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) to come forward and call on the president to step down.

"If Hsieh is willing to do so, he still has a chance in the 2008 presidential election. Lin should also come forward as Lee did if he still cares about Taiwan's democracy," Soong said while campaigning for a PFP city councilor candidate.

If both Lin and Hsieh joined Lee to urge the president to step down, the chances of the third recall motion passing the legislature would be much greater, Soong said.

The KMT caucus also urged Lin to make public his stance concerning the president.

DPP Secretary-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said the party understood that Lee made the suggestion out of goodwill and that the party would review its approach.

The DPP has always upheld the interests of the country and the public and cares deeply about the nation's democratic development, Lin said, adding that the DPP would let history be the judge for anything it did.

DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun told the media while campaigning for the party in Kaohsiung that Lee's comments were "biased" and "unfair to the DPP" because "the DPP has never been a corrupt or impenitent party."

DPP Legislator Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅), when asked by the press for comments, criticized Lee for being an "opportunist."

"His seemingly gentle appearance and humble words are but covers for his opportunistic character," Wang said.

Lee's opinions were "ridiculous" because he himself had failed to offer suggestions when they were needed over the past six years, Wang added.

DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠), however, said that the party's leaders and supporters should carefully think about Lee Yuan-tseh's words.

"A good political party should do the right thing so that the public will support it," Lee Wen-chung said.

DPP Legislator Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬), on the other hand, said it was bad timing for Lee Yuan-tseh to issue the letter. Cheng suggested that the president and DPP heavyweights "study the letter carefully after the first trial of the `state affairs fund' case."

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