Sat, Jul 09, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Lee ‘burdened’ democracy: Wu

LEGACY:The premier said in an interview that while Lee Teng-hui has contributed to Taiwan’s democracy, he also ‘burdened’ it with ‘black gold,’ or corrupt politics

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday questioned former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) influence in the next presidential election, and added that it was during Lee’s presidency that the nation’s political culture became rife with corruption and gangsters.

In an interview with China Television Co, Wu said that Lee’s recent call for people to vote for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) rather than President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in January’s election would “work on a tiny minority.”

Wu, picked as Ma’s running mate, also called for solidarity between People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), saying that a “lack of unity” was a symptom indicating the possibility of failure for the party.

During the interview, to be broadcast tomorrow, Wu said the 88-year-old former president “doesn’t keep abreast of developments in society because of his age” when he was asked to assess how Lee’s support for Tsai would help boost her election chances.

“Lee has made a contribution to democracy in Taiwan, but he also created a burden to its development,” Wu said, adding that it was during Lee’s presidency that political culture became riddled with corruption and gangsters, known as “black gold” politics.

Lee does not fully agree with Tsai’s policies, judging by his noncommittal attitude when asked by reporters to comment on her “nuclear-free homeland” policy, Wu added.

Wu also criticized Lee for sayting that Japan holds jurisdiction over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), which are also claimed by Taiwan and China.

On the reported rift within the pan-blue camp over how to file joint nominations for the legislative elections in January and news reports alleging the KMT has demanded Soong return NT$240 million (US$8.342 million) he allegedly took from the party in 1999, Wu said the KMT must unite with the PFP to win the presidential election.

Wu said that Ma has not been able to get in touch with Soong on the telephone in the past month to set up a meeting to discuss cooperation between the two parties in the elections.

“On several occasions, President Ma was on hold when [KMT Secretary-General Liao Liou-yi (廖了以)] was trying to reach Soong. I was there,” Wu said.

It has come to Ma’s attention that he could have interacted more with Soong in the past three years, but Ma has been so consumed by his job he hasn’t had a chance to do so, Wu said.

“President Ma has been addicted to his job, as he works 17 hours a day, seven days a week, so he was not good at interacting with the PFP,” Wu said.

Commenting on Wu’s remarks regarding “black gold” politics, DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said it “reeked of political interference in the judiciary,” but pointed out that the allegations of corruption during Lee’s administration involved only KMT officials.

“It has nothing to the with the DPP — in fact, President Ma Ying-jeou, who was at the ministry of justice at the time, should take the ultimate responsibility for any failures to eradicate corruption,” Chen said.

“The KMT is shooting itself in the foot by mentioning any ‘black gold’ corruption,” he added.

Meanwhile, Wang Yan-chun (王燕軍), a close aide to Lee, said that Wu needed to provide evidence to back up his remarks, adding that “they shouldn’t criticize the wrong guy.”

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