Lee Yuan-tseh's Open Letter

Here is the relevant biography of Lee Yuan-tseh (via Wikipedia):

Lee Yuan-tseh (born November 19, 1936) is a famous chemist. He was the first Taiwanese-born Nobel Prize laureate, who, along with the German-Canadian John C. Polanyi and American Dudley R. Herschbach won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1986 "for their contributions to the dynamics of chemical elementary processes."

Lee Yuan-tseh played an important role during the 2000 ROC Presidential election. On the last week of the election he announced his support for the candidacy of Chen Shui-bian who subsequently won a narrow victory over James Soong. Chen intended to nominate Lee to become Premier, but Lee declined after deliberating for a few days. Lee has been the President of the Academia Sinica since 1994 and renounced his U.S. citizenship to take the post.

Thus, as the person who put Chen Shui-bian into the presidency, Lee Yuan-tseh has been under public pressure to state his position in the current political crisis.  Lee had managed to stay silent until today's open letter.

(China Times)  Lee Yuan-tseh's Open Letter:

[in translation]

I am presently in Paris attending an international scientific committee conference called by the Israel-Palestine Scientific Organization.  This conference enabled me to re-visit the tragic histories of Israel and Palestine and I am deeply touched.  The Israelis and Palestinians are peoples with glorious histories that are filled with tragedies.  Over the decades, these two peoples have been immersed in hardship but they never abandoned their quest for their ideals and they each made terrible sacrifices.  They committed serious mistakes, but they were willing to reflect and repent continuously and then re-start to move towards even loftier ideals.  The fates of the Israelis and Palestinians are inseparable, and together they weave a magnificent epic poem laden with blood and tears.

The histories of the Israelis and Palestinians have stayed deep in my heart since when I was young.  It reminded me of my beloved Taiwan.  Taiwan is not Israel, and it is not Palestine.  But Taiwan has its own tragic history and it has encountered its own set of hardships.  Taiwan has never abandoned its ideal and it has made terrible sacrifices.  During the process of seeking the ideal, it has erred and committed serious mistakes  As a scientific worker, I am surprised at the similarity of the historical evolution of different peoples.

My beloved Taiwan is presently facing a major historical challenge.  The case of the state affairs fund and the indictments made by the prosecutor are impacting society in Taiwan.  This is the most serious crisis since Taiwan moved into the democratic era.

The deep significance is that this crisis represents the democratic results of the changing of the ruling political party.  Prior to the changing of the ruling party, it was difficult to imagine that the sitting president could be investigated by the justice department and the First Lady be prosecuted.  Yet today, the justice department has shown a spirit of independence that has hitherto never been seen in the history of Taiwan.  The investigation or prosecution of the First Family does not imply that they are guilty, but this is already a huge step in the independence of the justice system in Taiwan.  This is the best result of the changing of the ruling party in 2000.

The changing of the ruling party reflects the fact that the Taiwan people were seeking a brighter and better democratic life.  The pursuit of democracy is an unending quest for the people of Taiwan, and clean politics is the core value of democratic politics.

In 2000, the people of Taiwan were willing to support the changing of the ruling party.  People were looking for change and they wanted to break away from the corruption and 'black gold' politics during the fifty-year rule of the Kuomintang.  Political parties are organizations of people.  People are not angels, and they will make mistakes.  Thus, all political parties will make mistakes.  Any political party that does not think it ever makes mistakes is necessarily lying.  Therefore, the emphasis is not about making mistakes; it is about correcting the mistakes and improve as a result.  The lesson during the 2000 change of ruling party informed us that a corrupt political party that does not know how to change will be forsaken by the people.  Conversely, a political party that adheres to the core values of democracy, acknowledges its mistakes and courageously changes for the better will be supported and loved by the people.

The publication of the indictments in the case of the state affairs fund means that the reform of the old system in Taiwan and the building of core democratic political values are now facing a severe challenge.  This challenge forces the government, ruling party and the people of Taiwan to stand at the crossroads of a historical choice.  If President Chen and the ruling party do not want to abandon the core values of democratic politics and if they do not want to abandon the unending quest for democracy by the people of Taiwan, then President Chen and the ruling party must make a proper choice between "the greater self" and "the smaller self," between "political party" and "nation."  Thus, at this moment, I sincerely recommend: President Chen needs to carefully consider the question of staying/going.

The correct path is not necessarily the easiest one.  Often, it is a thorny, bumpy path, but it is also the only one that is worth to clear for the sake of our descendants in Taiwan.  The basic factors to determine the destiny of Taiwan is to love this piece of earth, to love the people here and to love this nation in the proper manner.  I never believe that "I must support my country, right or wrong."  I always feel that when my country does right, it will be able to survive and enjoy the bountiful fruits of civilization.

God bless Taiwan.

Lee Yuan-tseh.  Paris.  November 9, 2006.













日前国务机要费案起诉书的公布,意味著台湾旧体制的改革与民主政治核心价值的建立正遭遇严峻的挑战。这个挑战让台湾的政府、执政党与人民被迫站在历史抉择的十字路口。如果陈总统与执政党仍无意放弃民主政治的核心价值,无意背弃台湾人民对民主政治永不中止的理想,那么陈总统与执政党就必需在「小我」与「大我」、「政党」与「国家」之间,做出正确的抉择。因此,值此时刻,我诚恳建议: 陈总统有必要慎重考虑去留的问题。



李远哲 于巴黎二ΟΟΟ六年十一月九日