Political leaders mourn Taiwan’s former top envoy to Thailand

Lee Ying-yuan (???), Taiwan's former representative to Thailand who died of ampullary cancer Thursday, was remembered by political figures in Taiwan on Friday for his lifelong support for Taiwan and its democracy.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a legislative session, Premier Su Tseng-chang (???) extended his condolences to Lee's family members and praised his spirit and courage.

"Ambassador Lee was highly-educated and experienced, and he spent his whole life fighting for Taiwan's sovereignty and democracy," Su said.

Legislative Yuan Speaker You Si-kun (???) also remembered Lee on his Facebook page, thanking him for his hard work as secretary-general of the Executive Yuan in 2002, when You was the premier.

Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislators Chuang Jui-hsiung (???) and Kuan Bi-ling (???) remembered Lee as a person who was always enthusiastic, optimistic and warm.

Born in Yunlin in 1953, Lee earned his bachelor's degree in public health at National Taiwan University (NTU) and then a master's degree in health care management at Harvard University. In 1988, he received a doctorate in health economics from the University of North Carolina.

He was blacklisted by the then Kuomintang government for advocating Taiwan's independence while he was in the United States.

Lee was among a large number of expatriate pro-independence advocates who returned to Taiwan in the years after martial law was lifted in 1987, coming back in 1990, but he was arrested for alleged anti-state activities in 1991 and was imprisoned for nine months.

On Thursday, both President Tsai Ing-wen (???) and Vice President Lai Ching-te (???) praised Lee's devotion to Taiwan's democratic movements, with Lai calling him "a brave man who dedicated his life to Taiwan."

His political career took off when he won election to the Legislative Yuan in 1995 representing Taipei County and served there until 2000, but he then lost decisively in 2002 to Ma Ying-jeou (???) in that year's race for Taipei mayor.

Lee served as labor minister from 2005 to 2007 and as head of the Environmental Protection Administration from 2016 to 2018.

He was appointed to serve as Taiwan's representative to Thailand in 2020 but resigned and returned home in August this year due to poor health.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel