Mon, Jul 16, 2007 - Page 2 News List

20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE END OF MARTIAL LAW: Lee credits public over Chiang

`PEOPLE POWER' Former president Lee Teng-hui said that democracy was achieved through the public's concerted efforts, not through the work of any single individual

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday praised late president Chiang Ching-kuo's (蔣經國) decision to lift martial law as "forward-looking," but said that the public's demands had led to the decision.

Dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) declared martial law on May 19, 1949, effective on May 20, 1949.

Chiang Ching-kuo lifted martial law on July 15, 1987, half a year prior to his death.

"The decision Mr Ching-kuo made to lift martial law was historic ... a brave, resolute, and forward-looking decision made by a leader faced by changes ... It was not only an answer to the public's demands, but also the first step toward Taiwan's release from a one-party system," he said in a speech read by Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) at a forum in Taipei yesterday.

Lee planned to deliver the speech in person, but was advised by doctors to rest following a cataract surgery.

The forum, hosted by Taiwan Advocates, was titled "The road from Taiwan's democratization to its normalization."

In his written speech, Lee said that the nation's democratization had been achieved through the public's concerted efforts.

The road to democracy was a demonstration of "people power" and not the work of any single individual, he said.

The true significance of the end of martial law is its role in the chain of steps that led to democracy, he said.

Taiwan has become a democracy, but China remains an autocracy, Lee said, adding that this illustrated that each country would achieve democracy through a different process but that the public must demand democracy.

While slamming the pan-blue camp for having obstructed democratization, the former president also criticized the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for compromising over the Referendum Law in its negotiations with the KMT.

Lee was referring to the constitutional amendment package passed in 2005, which, backed by both the DPP and the KMT, stipulated that future amendments to the Constitution must be approved by three-quarters of the legislature and ratified by a national referendum.

Huang later said that Lee thought democratization might have taken longer if Chiang Ching-kuo had not lifted martial law before passing away.

Additional reporting by CNA

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