Tue, Aug 22, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: A letter to Shih Ming-teh

By Gerrit van der Wees and Mei-chin Chen

We are deeply concerned about the recent actions of former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德), in particular his campaign to get President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to step down.

We are writing this as friends who -- when Shih was arrested in those dark days of January 1980, following the Dec. 10, 1979, Kaohsiung Incident -- worked day and night for his release from prison.

In 1985 and in 1986, when Shih was on hunger strike in prison, we wrote articles and letters calling on the international community to put pressure on the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) authorities to release him. These articles can be found on our Taiwan Communique Web site at www.taiwandc.org/twcom/tc21-int.pdf and www.taiwandc.org/twcom/tc26-int.pdf.

We are writing to remind Shih of the ideals he expressed at that time. In his 1985 statement, Shih wrote: "With mounting and maturing years, knowledge, experience and powers of judgment, I have come to know that injustice and inequality among the human family is not limited to Taiwan alone."

"Everyone must hold fast to this with unshaken conviction, even more with patience. Simply because we are confident of the supremacy and sacredness of our ideal, under no circumstance does this warrant our failure to carefully choose the methods used in its attainment. Foul means are still foul, and the sacredness of the purpose can in no way render them fair," he wrote.

We want to remind Shih that Taiwanese people have no other "motherland" than Taiwan.

We want to remind him that in those dark days, current People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) were part of the oppressive KMT system that put Shih on trial in a military court, and kept him in jail from 1980 until his release in May 1990. They described Shih as a dangerous "subversive," when he was only advocating freedom and democracy in Taiwan.

In view of all this, we are deeply disappointed that Shih is now siding with the pan-blue camp, who were the ones responsible for Taiwan's 38 years of martial law, its White Terror and Shih's own imprisonment. This is incomprehensible to us.

Certainly, one should stand up for what is right, and certainly it is essential to fight corruption. But the cases of former Presidential Office deupty secretary-general Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) and the president's son-in-law Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘) are still being investigated, and President Chen himself has not been implicated. Overall, the president's administration has been the cleanest Taiwan has ever seen, period.

These cases came to light because under the DPP, Taiwan is now free and democratic. Under the old KMT administration, these cases would have been swept under the carpet. As a former human-rights activist, Shih should respect the law and let the court handle these cases instead of taking to the streets, creating disruption and social instability.

It is clear to us that the pan-blue camp is using these cases to undermine a democratically elected government. Former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Soong lost the 2004 election, albeit narrowly, but they never came to terms with that reality, and are now using foul means to get even.

To quote Shih's own words: "foul means are still foul."

For the sake of stability and to safeguard Taiwan's future as a free, democratic and independent nation that can stand proudly as a full member of the international community, we strongly urge Shih to call off his campaign and reconcile with his old friends in the democratic camp, instead of letting himself be used by the self-serving pan-blue demagogues.

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