French legislators pay respect to Taiwan's former president Lee Teng-hui

Taiwan representative office in France sets up memorial for country’s first directly elected president

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French legislators express condolences over Lee Teng-hui's passing. (Twitter, AP photo)

French legislators express condolences over Lee Teng-hui's passing. (Twitter, AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Several French political leaders have expressed condolences for Taiwan's former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) after he passed away last Thursday (July 30) at the age of 97.

Referred to as the "Godfather of Taiwan's democracy" by French media, Lee died Thursday evening in Taipei Veterans General Hospital, where he had been hospitalized and treated for pneumonia since February. He was known for his significant role in shifting Taiwan from martial law to full democratization during his 12-year tenure.

On Saturday (Aug 1), French legislator and former Ecology Minister Francois de Rugy took to Twitter to pay respects to Taiwan's first directly elected president. He stressed that Lee had put in great effort to establish a true democracy and his legacy will live on forever.

French National Assembly members Laure de La Raudière and Eric Bothorel also offered condolences for Lee and his loved ones. They described Lee as the "real founder of democratic Taiwan" and said they shared the sorrow of Taiwanese.

Anne Genetet of France's ruling La Republique en Marche Party (LREM) said Lee had shared the same values on "the freedom of thought, choice, and speech" as the European nation. Meanwhile, Constance Le Grip, legislator of The Republican Group, questioned the French government for not addressing Lee's passing or showing condolences to the Taiwanese people.

To commemorate Lee's contributions to Taiwan, the Taipei Representative Office in France has set up a memorial site for him. The memorial will be open to the public from August 4-28 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. for French friends and Taiwanese nationals to pay respects, according to the representative office.

Taiwan's envoy in Paris, Wu Chih-chung (吳志中), told CNA that Lee had helped Taiwan garner support from other countries by emphasizing its democratic values. He said Lee was the pioneer of bringing Taiwan into the global community and had advanced the nation's diplomatic potential immensely.