President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), senior government officials and dignitaries from the US and Japan yesterday paid tribute to the man who led Taiwan’s transition to democracy, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).
Lee, an agricultural economist and politician who devoted his career to building democracy in Taiwan through direct elections and helping create a Taiwanese identity distinct from that of China, passed away on July 30 aged 97.
The main service, held yesterday morning at the chapel of Aletheia University in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District (淡水), was attended by nearly 800 people, including government officials, Lee’s relatives and friends, members of the Presbyterian Church and representatives of foreign governments, including former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori and a delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach.
They wore masks and sat spaced out in pews.
The memorial was also held at two other venues — an auditorium and concert hall at nearby Tamkang Senior High School.
The service was held in accordance with Christian rites — Lee was a Christian — as well as conventions for a deceased president.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
Lee, president from 1988 to 2000, shaped the Taiwan of today, Tsai said.
“Confronted with daunting international challenges, he skillfully led the people of Taiwan by promoting pragmatic diplomacy. Taiwan became synonymous with democracy and was catapulted onto the world stage,” Tsai said. “Thanks to his efforts, Taiwan now shines as a beacon of democracy.”
“He was the progenitor of a new era. He led the advancement of Taiwan,” she said, adding that Lee’s life represented the epitome of Taiwan, as the former president had lived through the Japanese colonial era, the period of authoritarianism and then the birth of democracy — of which he was a key figure.
“Although Lee has passed away, his spirit will guide successive generations,” Tsai said.
Vice President William Lai (賴清德) and five senior government officials draped the national flag over Lee’s casket after Tsai’s speech.
Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and the Dalai Lama also paid tribute to the former president.
Lee “planted the roots of democracy and human rights in Taiwan, for which he was praised internationally as ‘Mr Democracy,’ as well as making great contributions to mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and Taiwan,” Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chief Representative Hiroyasu Izumi read from a eulogy written by Abe.
He “wholeheartedly lamented Lee’s passing,” Abe wrote.
In a video submitted to the memorial service, the Dalai Lama said that he regretted not being able to attend the service in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he and Lee had been close friends who were genuine with one another.
The Dalai Lama admired Lee for “protecting Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, as well as Chinese culture, with all his strength,” he said.
“As a friend, I often recall him fondly, and as a Buddhist, I often pray for him,” he said.
The Dalai Lama also said it was possible that Lee would one day return to Taiwan through reincarnation, which he hoped would happen even if he and Lee were unable to recognize each other after.
Lee’s body was cremated on Aug. 14. His ashes are to be put to rest on Oct. 7 at the Wuchihshan Military Cemetery in New Taipei City.
Additional reporting by AP and Reuters
PROTECTION: The New Taipei City mayor said a pass could cover stores, but not eateries, while Ko Wen-je said vaccinated people could be exempted from some rules Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) on Saturday proposed implementing a “COVID-19 pass” regulation that would allow only vaccinated people into certain areas. New Taipei City is planning to require a “COVID-19 pass” for entry to “vulnerable spaces” to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Hou said. Non-students entering elementary schools in New Taipei City are required to show their COVID-19 vaccination cards or proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. This is for the protection of students under the age of 12, who are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, city officials have said. The
PAPERS, PLEASE: A digital certificate or a printout would return one of three results: green for ‘pass,’ red for ‘not passed’ or yellow for ‘to be determined,’ the CECC said Starting today, people can download a Digital COVID-19 Certificate, with the government now requiring people at night clubs, karaoke bars and other businesses in “eight major special establishment categories” to be fully vaccinated and present a vaccination certificate. The eight categories include dance venues, massage parlors, hostess bars and saunas. Customers and service personnel at the venues have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, as they can neither avoid contact with people nor strictly observe distancing guidelines, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. As such, both groups are required to be fully vaccinated, meaning that they must have had at least a
LAWMAKERS RALLY: Beijing’s unlegislated actions breach international and WTO trade rules, and affect the basic principles of the EU single market, the letter said A group of 41 EU lawmakers on Tuesday condemned China for its political and economic coercion of Lithuania, and called on leaders of the bloc to demonstrate solidarity with Vilnius. The letter was initiated by Slovakian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Miriam Lexmann, who is cochair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China. “We, the undersigned members of the European Parliament, resolutely condemn political and economic coercion of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) against Lithuania,” the letter said. The letter addressed European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and
‘GOOD FRIEND’: The Slovenian prime minister said he had visited Taiwan four or five times, and that Taiwanese should have the right to determine their future The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday welcomed Slovenia’s plan to establish a representative office in Taiwan, after Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa revealed the plan in an interview with Indian TV station Doordarshan on Monday. Taiwan is a democratic country that respects international democratic standards and international laws, the Slovenian prime minister said in the interview. Slovenia and Taiwan are working on “exchanging representatives,” he said. “Of course, this will not be on the level of embassies. It will be on the same level as many of the EU member countries.” “When I spoke with our businessmen who are trading with Taiwan, they