On the morning of September 19, President Tsai Ing-wen, accompanied by Vice President Lai Ching-te, attended the memorial service for former President Lee Teng-hui, expressing fond memories and great sadness at the passing of former President Lee.
The memorial service was held at 09:30 a.m. at the chapel in Aletheia University. After arriving, President Tsai first presented a Presidential Citation to former President Lee's eldest daughter Anna Lee (李安娜) in honor of his outstanding contribution to the country and society.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
We are solemnly gathered here today to commemorate former President Lee Teng-hui. President Lee will forever be remembered as an extraordinary statesman, an agricultural specialist, a philosopher, and a devout Christian. His lifetime of contributions shaped the Taiwan we know today.
From a very young age, President Lee had already begun considering questions of identity and the meaning of life. As a young man, he traveled abroad to study, hoping to transform Taiwan through agricultural economics. In the prime of his life, he entered government service. When given the opportunity to lead Taiwan, he harnessed a wave of democratic change to usher in a peaceful revolution.
During his 12-year tenure, President Lee laid the foundation for democratization and Taiwanization. Confronted with daunting international challenges, he skillfully led the people of Taiwan by promoting pragmatic diplomacy. Taiwan became synonymous with democracy and was catapulted onto the world stage. Because of this, President Lee came to be lauded as Mr. Democracy.
Domestically, President Lee nationalized the armed forces, promoted economic liberalization and high-tech industrial development, and launched the National Health Insurance program. His seminal contributions to Taiwan laid a robust foundation for the society we enjoy today.
One of President Lee's fundamental principles was to ascertain what the people of Taiwan wanted and be guided by their wishes. He served as President with the people in his heart. This is his legacy, and this is how Taiwan will always remember him.
After leaving office, President Lee continued to closely follow issues of national identity and sustainable development. In his later years, he still pursued knowledge and traveled extensively at home and abroad. In his writing and speeches, he repeatedly asked a vital question: What is the future of Taiwan? He encouraged our people to come together to help Taiwan find its own way forward.
President Lee's childhood musings on life and death matured into a selfless spirit, reflected in his oft-quoted saying "the self does not mean just me." With his life spanning nearly a century, he served as a link between Taiwan and the world. Thanks to his efforts, Taiwan now shines as a beacon of democracy. On behalf of the people of Taiwan, I would like to say: President Lee, thank you!
As we pay our last respects and honor his lifelong contributions and devotion to our nation, we must not forget that Taiwan's future is now in our hands. We have a responsibility to continue his endeavors, allowing the will of the people to reshape Taiwan, further defining Taiwan's identity and deepening and bolstering democracy and freedom. We also have a responsibility to our future. In an ever-changing environment, we must embrace the world with confidence and courage. But most of all, we have a responsibility to help each and every citizen realize the happiness of being born Taiwanese, and to ensure the people of Taiwan enjoy peace and prosperity generation after generation.
The legacy of President Lee will never be forgotten. His spirit will guide the nation and the people of Taiwan as we continue along the path of democracy, freedom, diversity and openness. Taiwan will continue to be a force for good in the world.
Following President Tsai's remarks, Vice President Lai led the members of the funeral committee in paying their respects to former President Lee. After the master of ceremonies read the national flag memorial verse aloud, Vice President Lai led Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Legislative Yuan President Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), Judicial Yuan President Hsu Tzong-li (許宗力), Examination Yuan President Huang Jong-tsun (黃榮村), and Control Yuan President Chen Chu (陳菊) in draping the flag over the coffin. The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan then conducted a memorial service ceremony.
A memorial video, "Taiwan's Mr. Democracy," was also shown at the venue, recounting major events in former President Lee's life during his youth, public service and political careers, and his outstanding contributions and key achievements promoting democracy in Taiwan.
During the proceedings Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Taipei Office Chief Representative Hiroyasu Izumi read aloud a eulogy on behalf of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who expressed his heartfelt gratitude to former President Lee for instilling universal values like freedom, democracy, and human rights in Taiwan and for his contributions to furthering mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and Taiwan. Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama also shared his memories of and appreciation for former President Lee via video. The Dalai Lama stated that he admires former President Lee's commitment to democracy, freedom and the preservation of Chinese culture in Taiwan. He also said that most probably former President Lee will be reborn in Taiwan and that his rebirth will carry his spirit continuously.
Link: Former President Lee Teng-hui Memorial Video