Academia Sinica head speaks out about Lee Teng-hui book

The China Post staff

Prominent scientist Lee Yuan-tseh broke silence yesterday, saying that he thought it shameful that former President Lee Teng-hui had put so much undue trust in rumors.

Lee Yuan-tseh, Academia Sinica president, said he had never claimed to be an “almighty” being who could have resolved the 1995-96 cross-strait crisis.

The scholar made the remarks yesterday in response to criticisms of him in a newly publicized book on former President Lee. The scholar said the former president should not have believed rumors, aimed at distancing the two Lees, after winning the 1996 presidential election.

The controversial book, entitled “An Account of Lee Teng-hui in Power,” has sparked wide discussions across the political spectrum.

James Soong, chairman of the People First Party, a splitaway from the Kuomintang, was quoted by his aides as describing the book as a tactic to prevent his party from cooperating with the KMT in the upcoming elections.

“Lee Teng-hui’s main purpose in life has been to prevent Mr. Soong from becoming the president,” they said. The former Taiwan provincial governor declined public comments on the book yesterday.

While inherent difficulties do exist in PFP-KMT cooperation, the PFP will continue to strive to strengthen relations with the KMT unperturbed by the book, Soong was quoted as saying.

Only a coalition between the PFP and the KMT will be able to represent the mainstream opinions of society, Soong’s aides said. Ding Yuan-chao, a leading aide to former Vice President Lien Chan, said even Lee himself does not completely agree with the book’s contents.

Lee had never read through the whole book, according to Ding. The former president also denied to have said that Lien is not leadership material.

Only a very small part of the book can be attributed to Lee, while the rest represents the writer’s ideas, said Ding.

Sources close to Lee said both Lee and Lien have been on good terms, although Lee is portrayed to be highly critical of Lien in the book. Relations between Lien and Lee have not worsened as the book describes, they said, acknowledging however that their interactions are not as close as those between Lee and his successor Chen Shui-bian.