President Tsai Ing-wen said Sept. 19 she would continue the legacy of late President Lee Teng-hui in allowing the will of the people to reshape Taiwan while deepening and bolstering freedom and democracy.
Lee, lauded as Mr. Democracy, will be remembered as an extraordinary statesman, agricultural specialist and philosopher, Tsai said. He devoted himself over a lifetime to shaping Taiwan into a beacon of freedom and democracy, she added.
Tsai made the remarks during a memorial service for Lee, the nation’s first democratically elected head of state, at the chapel of Aletheia University in New Taipei City. The event involved around 800 attendees, including Tsai, Vice President Lai Ching-te, officials, foreign envoys such as U.S. Undersecretary Keith Krach and former Japan Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, representatives of political parties, and Lee’s family members and friends.
Lee’s spirit will guide the people of Taiwan as the country remains a beacon of freedom, democracy, diversity and openness, as well as a force for good in the world, Tsai said.
According to Tsai, Lee led the people of Taiwan by promoting pragmatic diplomacy. He also nationalized the armed forces, fast-tracked economic liberalization and high-tech industrial development, and launched the National Health Insurance system, she added.
Following Tsai’s remarks, Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chief Representative Hiroyasu Izumi read a eulogy on behalf of former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, while Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama shared his memories of and appreciation for Lee via a video message.
Lee served 12 years as president of the ROC (Taiwan). He took office in January 1988 upon the death of President Chiang Ching-kuo, and was sworn in again in May 1990 and six years later as the nation’s first democratically elected head of state.
On May 20, 2000, Lee stepped down as president. He led an active public and personal life until passing away July 30 aged 97 in Taipei City. (YCH-E)
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