Fri, Dec 08, 2006 - Page 8 News List

The nation's painful trek to freedom, democracy

By Jerome Keating

The election date for Taipei mayor approaches and the rumor mill is in full force. The current hot topic is the secret meeting between Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) last Friday.

While the meeting smacks of bargaining, collusion, backroom deals and even potential blackmail, the topic of the meeting remains unknown.

Ma in typical fashion at first denied it and then seeing the cat was out of the bag admitted it. Both were flirting with potential violations of the Election and Recall Law (選罷法) with their clandestine meeting.

Who arranged the meeting, why, and whose advantage did it serve the most?

It was exposed by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), but who told Hsieh and why is also grist for the mill.

I have no immediate answers to the above. Instead I want to relay a moving experience last Sunday.

My wife and I had the good fortune to attend an orchestral concert at the National Concert Hall featuring the music of Gordon Chin (金希文), a native son of Taiwan.

Chin is a young and gifted composer who has received numerous commissions from major ensembles and institutions in North America, Asia and Europe. Conducting was Heiichiro Ohyama of Japan, a famous conductor and violist. Felix Fan (范雅志), a noted cellist, was a guest performer.

This grand performance was all part of the Gordon Chin Music Festival co-sponsored by the National Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center and the Chilin Foundation.

The Chilin Foundation, for those that do not know, is the foundation founded by Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) to promote the culture of Taiwan and its democracy. Lin and his wife were both in attendance at the concert.

In crossing the square from the National Theater to the National Concert Hall that night, the moon was out and I had my frequent mixed feelings. The place has a certain attractive splendor yet it lies in the shadow of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial. Seeing the memorial, one cannot help but think of the megalomania of the man to whom it is dedicated.

How much and how long have so many had to suffer because of that megalomania and the regime he set up.?

Inside at the concert, we happened to sit in the same row as Joel and Judy Linton -- the surviving daughter of Lin I-hsiung. The couple had brought two of their daughters all dressed up in seasonal finery.

There we were in the National Concert Hall in the shadow of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall at a concert co-sponsored by the foundation of a man imprisoned because of participation in the Kaohsiung Incident, a man whose twin daughters and mother were brutally murdered because of his involvement in the democracy movement.

Now some 26 years later, I listened to the orchestral music and observed the two well-behaved granddaughters of Lin. They probably had no thought at that moment of their two deceased aunts who had been murdered when they were about the same age as the children. How strange are the twists and turns of life; how magnanimous are some men in comparison with others.

The elections tomorrow are important, but so too are experiences like the one above.

Taiwan has changed much since the Kaohsiung Incident. Though it has not yet achieved all of its goals in determining its democracy, freedom and destiny, there has been progress in the pain and therefore hope.

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