Lee Kuan Yew swaps views with Chen


The China Post and agencies

Singapore’s elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew spent his second day in Taiwan meeting President Chen Shui-bian and Mainland Affairs Council chairperson Tsai Ing-wen, but contents of the conversations were not revealed at the request of Lee. On the night of the first-day of his visit — his first in six years — Lee, who arrived on Saturday with his wife for a four-day stay, already had a secret talk with Premier Tang Fei, who went to see Lee at the Westin Resort where he was staying. Officials were tight-lipped on what had been discussed, but conversations between the leaders were believed to have centered on Taiwan’s icy ties with mainland China and Taiwan’s current policy after the change in government following the Kuomintang’s defeat in the presidential elections in March. While news media worried about a lack of substance for their reports, the radical Taiwan Independence Party filled the blank by staging two protests — one in the morning and the other in the afternoon — against Lee. “Broker to betray Taiwan; Lee Kuan Yew, Get out,” said a banner unfurled by a small group of protesters from the radical party. The protesters had asked to enter Lee’s hotel to lodge a formal protest, but their demands were refused by the hotel’s management. “If Singapore can be independent of Malaysia, why can’t Taiwan?” asked party spokesman Li Yu-yen. The radical party has strongly opposed Lee’s visit, viewing Lee as a messenger for Beijing since Lee is known for his anti-Taiwan independence stance. While the small group protested outside the hotel, Lee met Tsai Ing-wen of the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s top mainland policy planning body. Tsai left the hotel after meeting with Lee for about 45 minutes. When Lee appeared in the hotel lobby, ready to leave for an appointment with President Chen, he declined to reveal what he had talked about with Tsai. “The weather is very good,” was the answer he kept telling reporters. The same group of protesters held another protest again outside the Taipei Guest House, where Chen later held a banquet for the former Singaporean prime minister. Later in the week, the 77-year-old Lee planned to meet with leaders of other political parties.

While Lee has said he is visiting Taiwan on a “private fact-finding trip,” the ruling Democratic Progressive Party with which Chen is affiliated, is reportedly wary of his intent. It is widely speculated that Lee may have come to Taiwan to talk about bridging the gulf between mainland China and Taiwan. Many believe he favors the island’s reunification with the mainland, especially given that Lee had visited Beijing just three months ago. Lee, who once helped set up a historic meeting between Taipei and Beijing in 1993, has denied that he is a messenger for Beijing, saying only that he wanted to visit Taiwan to better understand the island’s political changes. Singapore has long had a special relationship with Taiwan. The small Southeast Asian island nation is one of the few countries that have had military exchanges with Taiwan.

But Lee has also cultivated close relations with Chinese Communist leaders.

Lee has agreed with Beijing, insisting that Taiwan must accept that reunification is inevitable and that the only likely alternative would be a devastating war that would destabilize the region.