An open letter to ex-President Lee
Dear President Lee: It has been a very long time since I last wrote you. Hence this belated letter. One of the last letters I wrote you, Sir, was sent via diplomatic pouch from Rome where I served as your Taipei representative in Italy. In fact, I sent you two letters to the same effect. I urged you to run for another term as president, to which you were constitutionally entitled.
That was the time when James Soong and Lien Chan were vying to become your Joshua. Ever since you succeeded President Chiang Chingkuo, you wanted to lead the people of Taiwan to the land of liberty as Moses did in the Exodus. Moses died before he could lead the Jews to their promised land of Palestine from Egypt. You wished to step down after 12 years of governing the Republic of China in Taiwan.
Of course, you liked to choose Lien, who is a native-born Taiwanese whose grandfather is Lien Heng, the author of “A Comprehensive History of Taiwan,” rather than Chinese-born upstart Soong you promoted to Taiwan’s governor.
Soong was going all out to run for president in 2000, because you phased out the province of Taiwan and did not appoint him president of the Executive Yuan or premier. You made Lien premier instead. As the race between Soong and Lien was heating up, I wrote to remind you that you should run for reelection in order to prevent a split in the Kuomintang which would only help Chen Shui-bian to win in 2000.
Do you still remember that I cited the example of President Theodore Roosevelt? After serving as president elected in his own right, Ted Roosevelt declared he would not run for a second term and made William Taft his successor. Dissatisfied with Taft as president, Roosevelt formed the Bull Moose Party to run again only to split the then-invincible Republican Party, enabling Woodrow Wilson to win the presidential election of 1912. I was afraid that you would follow in Roosevelt’s footsteps.
You did not reply to my letters of plea. You asked your chief secretary Su Chih-cheng to tell me you did not want to be a culprit of history. You followed Roosevelt. Soong bolted the Kuomintang to run, and lost by a small edge. President Chen certainly was not a Joshua you hoped to need. The turbulent eight years of his rule and the two more years that followed became a decade lost for Taiwan on its long journey from its Dutch colonization to a prosperous modern democracy. In that sense, I am sorry to say, you may be recorded as a culprit in history contrary to your wish.
While I was working as your official English and Japanese interpreter, you told me time and again you would like to be a preacher after retirement to preach the Gospel. I truly believed you. Permit me to say, however, I was wrong. You have continued to play Moses. You named Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Pro- gressive Party your Joshua by telling the Japanese monthly Voice that you support her for president in 2016.
Dear President Lee, I admire you for your sense of mission. Your mission is to save Taiwan. You created the National Unification Council and adopted the Guidelines for National Unification, which President Chen made to cease to function and cease to apply. A modus vivendi you thus put into force started a detente between Taiwan and China, which came to a sudden end in 2000, and tensions mounted across the Taiwan Strait for eight years. President Ma Ying-jeou reinstated the modus vivendi to promote the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, but Tsai, who does not accept it, if elected, certainly would plunge the relations back to the situation that existed while Chen was in office.
As a matter of fact, Sir, your mission as Moses was accomplished when you retired. You made Taiwan a modern democracy that wrought the economic miracle of the 20th century. You should not worry about who would succeed President Ma. For one thing, Soong will never make a comeback. Hung Hsiu-chu, the Kuomintang standard bearer, if ever elected, could pick up where you had left off to achieve a rapprochement that is needed to keep Taiwan a viable developed economy. Tsai, who is not your desired Joshua, might antagonize China, but not to the extent that the People’s Liberation Army would be unleashed to invade Taiwan.
So, it is time to stop talking about such half-truths as you told Voice. As a retired president, you should not declare the Diaoyutai Islands an inherent territory of Japan’s. You should not have said you fought for your motherland of Japan, which was not for the colonized people of Taiwan, nor should you state that the “1992 Consensus” is a fake, that the events held in Taiwan to mark the victory in the eight-year War of Resistance were intended to curry favor with China as well as be a nuisance to Japan, or that Ma Yingjeou should not have a museum established in memory of Taiwan’s former “comfort women” for the Japanese Imperial Army.
Talking half-truths does not help you, my dear President Lee, to find a Joshua to bring your mission as Moses of Taiwan to fruition. Would you please begin propagating the Gospel of Taiwan as a truly prosperous land of liberty?