Sun, Dec 27, 2015 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: ‘Taiwan Foremost, Liberty First’

On Nov. 28, Lin Rung San (林榮三), the man who single-handedly founded the Liberty Times group, set out the group’s philosophy and remained steadfast in his beliefs throughout, passed away.

In the days after, we arranged a simple space in the group’s office building in which we could go and pay our respects and offer our condolences to the family of our company’s founder. To this space, too, came people from the wider community, from all walks of life, irrespective of party affiliation or generation, regardless of whether they knew the man well or had never met him. All of these people came to offer their condolences and to pay their respects in person, and for this we are sincerely grateful.

Over the past three weeks, we have received a number of questions from readers of the Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) concerned about the direction the paper is to take in the wake of its founder’s passing. This level of belief in what our founder was determined to do is quite moving.

Beyond the gratitude we feel for this, we are also well aware of the gravity of the responsibility with which we are charged and feel that there is a need to address this point here, for our readers and for society as a whole.

The guiding principle of the Liberty Times is “Taiwan Foremost, Liberty First” (台灣優先 自由第一). The newspaper’s localization message, with its staunchly Taiwan-centric perspective, places the protection of the freedom of expression at the core of its mission. Its goals are embedded in the democratization process of Taiwan’s recent past, being both a product of, and witness to, this history.

The newspaper was founded after the lifting of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime’s ban on the establishment of new newspapers and as a result of a commitment to localization. Through its persistent challenge to the establishment, it has grown stronger.

It has been three decades since our newspaper, founded by a Taiwanese to give ordinary Taiwanese a voice, was launched. The public was initially a bit suspicious, preferring to keep a distance, but gradually the message struck a chord. The newspaper began to stand out from the others in what was a fiercely competitive market, over time growing into the role, and there was a sense that it had found its vocation.

This showed how a section of the news media and the Taiwanese public were on the same page, so to speak, and anticipated the Liberty Times’ development strategy for the new millennium: Liberty for Taiwan is only possible through persistent efforts to put “Taiwan foremost.”

This principle, forged from the newspaper’s experience of its own growing pains, is to continue to guide it. It is something that both benefits others and is a rational choice that is also good for us.

Placing the emphasis on Taiwan and localization is so much more than a narrow concept of independence or regionalism. It is the fusion of the universal values of freedom and democracy, intertwined by two major threads: Taiwan’s future should be decided by the 23 million Taiwanese living here and they must be provided with an absolute guarantee that they have the right to choose their own way of life; and when these two principles are met, Taiwan should seek to promote peace with its neighbors and fulfill its international responsibilities.

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