Sat, Sep 11, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Letter

Honoring Peng's manifesto

In 1964, Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) together with his two students, Hsieh Tsung-min (謝聰敏) and Wei Ting-chao (魏廷朝), wrote the Manifesto of Taiwanese Self-Salvation.

Over the past 40 years, this manifesto has provided the guiding principles in the struggle for an independent, fully free, sovereign and democratic Taiwan for Taiwanese all over the world.

When we reread this manifesto on its 40th anniversary today, we can see that the nation's politics and social systems have been evolving along the path laid out in this document. Some examples of this evolution are the abolition of martial law, the removal of bans on forming political parties, the removal of censorship and bans on publishing newspapers, the reelection of the national legislatures and the establishment of a popular election for the head of state. All of these things represent implementations of the manifesto's guiding principles.

Some of the goals that remain to be accomplished are rewriting the Constitution to guarantee basic human rights, achieving true democracy by establishing an effective administration responsible to the people, unifying the country's population regardless of a person's place of origin and establishing a new country with a new government in order to participate in the UN as a new member -- and to strive together with other nations for world peace. Fortunately, we have begun to achieve these remaining goals.

The Taiwanese are pleased that former president Lee Tung-hui (李登輝) will participate in the series of events commemorating the 40th anniversary of the manifesto. Peng and Lee are both well respected and, indeed, have been proclaimed the founding fathers of an independent, democratic Taiwan. It was reported that the two secretly made commitments to each other that they would devote themselves, for the rest of their lives, to building an independent, democratic Taiwan. This was true even when the two were separated -- when Lee was president of Taiwan and Peng exiled to the US by Lee's political party. The two have been good friends since their days as college students. Ironically, they became keen rivals when they both ran for the presidency during the first popular election in Taiwan in 1996. But even during this race, they maintained their mutual respect for one another.

The commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Manifesto of Taiwanese Self-Salvation recognizes and honors Peng's lifelong devotion to Taiwan. It also provides a time for us to review and to rethink our history. The commemoration should inspire us to redouble our efforts to speed, deepen and strengthen our democracy. We are reminded to hope that the remaining goals of the manifesto will be accomplished soon.

Thomas Chen

New York

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