Saturday, April 23, 2005

Lee Teng Hui I

Yesterday's paper witnessed an entirely predictable eruption of Mount Lee Tung Hui over the issue of the pending mainland trips of Lien Chan and James Soong Chyu Yu.

What to make of Lee Tung Hui, eighty two years old,Taiwan's first democratically elected President, redoubtable Old Lion of the Taiwanese Identity Movement, with the constitution (and sense of mission) of an Old Testament Prophet. It's questionable that there is anybody who could claim to have done as much to establish democracy on the island as Lee; yet,there is also no one as hated, as vilified, on the mainland and among pan-Blues, as Lee. One can only sigh on seeing yet another Chiang Kai-Shek biography hit the stores when there is such a crying need for a full-length treatment of the man who,if Taiwan does indeed pull off independence, will go down as the Taiwanese (國父) Father of the Country (not Sun Yat-Sen).

This excellent profile gets to the nub of the accusation against Lee:“Traitor!” The thread of betrayal runs right through the decades. Lee was a member of the Taiwan Communist Party at the time of the (1947) 2-28 massacre by the KMT of a good part of the Taiwanese intelligentsia. As a Party member, Lee would have been right at ground zero for elimination. He was at an age when he would have still been figuring out who he was and what he believed and which organization represented what he believed. There is nothing in his subsequent biography that suggests that the Communist Party was anything but a youthful aborted beginning. Still, the question lingers: did he survive, and make his bones with the KMT, by selling out his comrades? There's a story to be told here, but there's no telling when, or if, it will ever come out.