TSAI TRIPS URGED:The former president said that he did not know much about the ‘new southbound policy,’ but said Tsai Ing-wen should visit nations in the region
By Chang Mao-sen, Chung Li-hua and Jake Chung / Staff reporters in Tokyo and Taipei, with staff writer
A copy of yesterday’s edition of the Sankei Shimbun, which features an interview with former president Lee Teng-hui, is pictured in Tokyo yesterday.
President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration lacks courage and decisiveness, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said in an exclusive interview with Japan’s Sankei Shimbun, in which he presented his views on international politics and cross-strait affairs.
The interview was published by the newspaper in Tokyo yesterday.
Lee said that while US intentions for the region remain unclear with US president-elect Donald Trump to take office in January, it is clear that should Trump implement isolationist policies, Japan’s role in regional politics would lend more weight to Tokyo’s decisions.
This highlights the importance of Taiwan-Japan cooperation and the “need to strengthen Taiwan-Japan ties,” Lee said.
Lee said he has not changed his stance on cross-strait affairs that “Taiwan is Taiwan and China is China; Taiwan is not Chinese territory,” adding that Tsai’s steady dip in popular support is in part due to the “distance” between her administration’s cross-strait policies that still maintain the “status quo” and the cross-strait policy that Taiwanese want.
Lee said he expects that the Tsai administration will “incrementally lead the nation to normalization” and understand that its governance “must handle whatever may happen [between Taiwan and] China.”
Lee said that “a leader’s most important qualities are courage and decisiveness,” and that the Tsai administration’s problems with judicial, pension and labor reform were because of a lack of these qualities.
Lee said he did not know much about the “new southbound policy,” but said that it is important for Tsai to visit the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and other Southeast Asian nations and make known what Taiwan has to offer.
Lee said that Tsai lacks people in the government who can “truly help her,” adding that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was “a complex amalgamation of factions and families” that might make policy implementation difficult.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) could only parrot the “one China” principle when she visited China and she dared say nothing else, which is a sign that the KMT is struggling to regain its status and the party might find it impossible to survive, Lee said.
Presidential Office spokesperson Alex Huang (黃重諺) said that Lee had done much to help Taiwan to become the modern and liberal nation it is and the Tsai administration is grateful for the suggestions he made.
The government will be pushing for multiple reforms in the hope of living up to Taiwanese expectations, Huang said.
Meanwhile, a DPP source said that Lee had not taken into consideration changes in the political environment, adding that the current situation is not like the transition away from authoritarian governance.
Important policies, such as pension and judicial reform, affect people’s rights, as well as industrial and social structures, the source said, adding that nothing can be done without communication.
Lee spokesman Wang Yan-chun (王燕軍) said that some news outlets might have taken the former president’s comments out of context.
Lee has been a long-time supporter of Tsai and has said that “criticism will not help; those with the wherewithal should actively help her,” Wang said.
According to Wang, Lee said that Tsai should be more straightforward about policies and not influenced by popularity polls.
The Tsai administration would not have simultaneously addressed so many issues that have led to confrontation if it did not intend to act, Wang said, adding that the government must follow through with its ambitions.