National leaders and others yesterday paid their respects to former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who died on Thursday aged 97 after bringing full democracy to Taiwan.
His memorial was held at the Taipei Guest House, decorated with white and pink flowers while the song I Am a Thousand Winds, one of Lee’s favorites, played.
Among yesterday’s visitors was President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who wrote in a book of condolences: “You shall forever be watching over democratic Taiwan.”
Photo: Lin Cheng-kun, Taipei Times
Tsai was accompanied by Vice President William Lai (賴清德) and Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and former vice presidents Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) also attended.
Lu described Lee as “Taiwan’s helmsman” who laid the nation’s foundation of democracy and law and order, while Wu praised Lee for “stabilizing the Republic of China, Taiwan, allowing it to prosperously develop.”
Wu said that being appointed by Lee as Kaohsiung mayor in the early 1990s helped cultivate him as a politician, adding that he hoped young Taiwanese could better understand the former president’s contributions.
Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Representative Hiroyasu Izumi also paid his respects.
Reading from a statement, he said: “Japan and Taiwan both lost a person that was very important to each other.”
“He laid the foundation for this free and democratic Taiwan of today,” Izumi said.
A woman from Taichung named Hsu (許) said she came to “express my gratitude and respect.”
“In our times, he witnessed the martial law and the lifting of it. I saw him lead Taiwan to become a democracy,” she said.
Among the people paying tribute were parents with their children, as well as Japanese and elderly people in wheelchairs accompanied by relatives.
The memorial is to continue until Aug. 16.
Lee is to be cremated and his ashes interred at Wuzhi Mountain Military Cemetery in New Taipei City’s Sijhih District (汐止) in a special area designated for those who have made significant contributions to the nation, a military source said.
Not all had kind words to say about Lee.
New Party spokesman Wang Ping-chung (王炳忠) on Thursday posted “finally dead” on Facebook, apparently in response to the news of Lee’s death.
The post drew angry responses from many Taiwanese.
Facing the criticism, Wang reiterated his position, reposting the same phrase two more times.
In response, New Power Party creative media director Jerry Liu (劉仕傑) called Wang “inhumane,” and urged him to apologize to Lee’s family.
Taiwanese singer Chang Li-min (張琍敏), an outspoken supporter of ousted Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), made a similar post on Facebook, writing: “Lee Teng-hui is dead, oh yeah.”
Additional reporting by Huang Hsin-po
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