Since former president Lee Teng-hui passed away in 2020, his namesake foundation’s priority has been to set up his memorial library. It was determined over the weekend that the future presidential library will be housed in the former National Taiwan University law school building. The library’s collection and exhibitions will be centered around democracy and human rights, in memory of Taiwan’s father of democracy.

Lin Ching

FTV reporter

It’s been almost a year and a half since former president Lee Teng-hui passed away. Today thanks to the active preparations by the Lee Teng-hui Foundation, the former NTU law school building will likely house his memorial library.

National Taiwan University’s former social science and law campus was established almost a century ago. The late president, an agricultural economist by training, once taught classes here. So having the memorial library at this location is especially meaningful.

Cheng Mu-chun

Lee Teng-hui Foundation director

If the site already comes with available land and building, and if it also has historical significance, then instead of looking for land and constructing the library ourselves, it would be much more efficient. Annie Lee personally called NTU President Kuan, to discuss this project. NTU’s administrators are quite supportive of it, because, one, it has significance, and two, late President Lee is in fact an NTU alumnus. So if a library like this can be established at NTU, it would be quite meaningful.

An avid reader, Lee had a collection of at least 20,000 titles. His study, located in the basement of his former residence, is a veritable library. The future presidential library will house and curate the entire catalog. Since he was nicknamed “Mr. Democracy,” future library exhibits will also center around the themes of democracy and human rights. But the funding for this library will have to be raised entirely by the Lee Teng-hui Foundation, which is chaired by Lee’s second daughter, Annie Lee. This is in sharp contrast with another presidential library-- Ching-Kuo Chi-Hai Cultural Park, which was inaugurated over the weekend. The park, named after Lee’s predecessor Chiang Ching-kuo, was founded largely thanks to the government’s donation. That one presidential library was funded by taxpayers’ money, but the other has to raise its own funds, had some questioning whether the government was fair.

Cheng Mu-chun

Lee Teng-hui Foundation director

The Lee Teng-hui Foundation today is unlikely to be given the same treatment. I can only say the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation’s establishment is largely due to its historical background, and sustained to the present day. Since Taiwan is now in democratic times, I believe if late President Lee were still with us, he probably wouldn’t want to see the public sector spending resources to build this library. I hope the library will come into existence from the bottom up, as a result of the people’s consensus, and with our foundation leading the effort.

So far, it is still unclear when the memorial library will materialize. Currently, the foundation’s priority is to sign a memorandum of understanding with NTU, so the world can come to witness Lee Teng-hui’s contributions to the democratization of Taiwan.