Fri, Feb 02, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Lee stirs up commentary storm

VARIOUS VIEWS A report that the former president had `changed his mind' about independence provided a catalyst for politicians to weigh in with their thoughts

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The nation's politicians yesterday dissected recent comments by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) regarding Taiwan's status, finding an array of possible meanings in the comments.

The latest edition of the weekly tabloid Next Magazine, which hit newsstands Wednesday, quoted Lee as saying that he had never been an advocate of Taiwan's independence.

Lee tried to clarify his remarks on Wednesday evening, in an interview with cable station TVBS.

"I've never advocated things like pursuing Taiwan's independence in terms of law," the former president said. "It is wrong for an independent nation to seek independence."

"Taiwan is independent. It owns its sovereignty," he said in the TV interview. "How can we go back and pursue independence?"

When approached by the press for comment in Chuchi Township (竹崎), Chiayi County, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) refused to respond.

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said Lee's remarks were "unbelievable."

"To watch public figures, we need to see their whole lives, not a chapter of their life," she said, without explaining.

Meanwhile, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) told reporters that he didn't think Lee had changed his position.

"Former president Lee's idea [about independence] has been consistent. Lee has long believed that the Republic of China [ROC] is an independent country," Wang said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) yesterday called a press conference in the legislature to praise Lee's remarks.

"What Lee has said is exactly the same as the DPP's `Resolution on Taiwan's Future (台灣前途決議文),'" Sheng said.

"Lee is still pro-independence. It is wrong and slanderous to say that he is not," Shen added.

"It is true that Lee's recent remarks are a bit different from what he has said before, but that doesn't mean he has changed his position on Taiwan's independence," he said.

"We can only say that he is more pragmatic," Shen said.

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmakers called a press conference to say that Lee has not changed his goals.

De jure independence

Meanwhile DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun yesterday said his party respected Lee's comments, but added that the DPP would continue to seek de jure independence.

Yu said that although he agreed with Lee that Taiwan was already an independent country, Taiwan is still suffering from a lack of recognition in the international community, and continuous oppression from China. Therefore, he said, it was crucial to strive for de jure independence.

"Anyone or any political party that deviates from advocating Taiwan's sovereignty will not be accepted by the 23 million Taiwanese," Yu told a press conference yesterday at party headquarters.

Yu said he still believed in "democratic Lee Teng-hui," adding that the DPP would continue to see the TSU as its ally, as the two parties share similar goals and values.

In the future, Yu said, the DPP will push for a new constitution and a change in Taiwan's status.

Meanwhile, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday said he had no idea what former president Lee Teng-hui meant, but for his part he believed Taiwan had always been an independent country, and the fact did not need to be emphasized again.

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang

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