Wed, Feb 29, 2012 - Page 8 News List

The historical significance of 228

By Lin Yung-mei 林詠梅

Two years later, in 1949, defeated by the communist forces, Chiang fled to Taiwan with the KMT army, instigating the White Terror and establishing martial law in Taiwan. During these long years, the Taiwanese continued to struggle for democratic freedoms. At the same time, a small number of intellectuals in China were engaged in a similar struggle.

After 1988, former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) oversaw the transition to democracy in Taiwan and the development of freedoms for the people living here. Freedom of speech has enabled the protection of human rights, the environment and society, and today, Taiwanese enjoy the same freedoms as other citizens of the modern world, bringing the same assurances of order, peace and reason. Taiwanese have already become accustomed to living under democratic freedoms. This is the new cultural environment in Taiwan.

However, this new culture is the antithesis of how the KMT and CCP would choose to govern. No dictator would countenance democratic freedoms.

Therefore, when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office in 2008, he started kowtowing to the CCP in China, bulldozing much of what has been built by the Taiwanese democratization process using Chinese investment and the pro-China media and villifying the personal and political achievements of those who have promoted the process here. As Ma moves closer to bringing his dream of eventual unification to fruition, Taiwanese are getting closer to the day when they will once more suffer occupation by Chinese forces and suppression or massacre at their hands.

From the above, it is evident that, having followed different historical paths, Taiwan has developed a culture with entirely different values than those held in China. Taiwanese must ensure that we are never again subjected to life under a dictatorship, that we will never allow another 228 to happen.

Lin Yung-mei is the daughter of Taiwanese intellectual and 228 victim Lin Mo-sei (林茂生).

Translated by Paul Cooper

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