Thu, Dec 05, 2019 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

A Taiwanese abroad

The recent articles about the life of Taiwan specialist J. Bruce Jacobs, who passed away recently in Australia at the age of 75, one written by Diane Baker and the other by Han Cheung, were informative and useful (“Taiwan specialist Bruce Jacobs dies in Melbourne,” Nov. 25, page 1, and “Taiwan in Time: Remembering the ‘Big Beard,’” Dec. 1 , page 8).

A Taiwanese man living for many years now in the US read the two articles, and reacted by sending me an e-mail detailing his personal recollections of the times Jacobs had lived through in Taiwan.

“I was a graduate student in America during the 1980 Kaohsiung Incident in Taiwan,” he wrote. “[Chinese Nationalist Party] KMT spies were on every American college campus then. They would report ‘unpatriotic’ students back to Taiwan. Many Taiwanese students were scared. Some students were so afraid that they would use chopsticks to pick up student newsletters [from Taiwanese associations on local campuses] and drop them into a trash can — afraid that reading the newsletter would leave fingerprints.”

“Information regarding the murder of Lin I-hsiung’s (林義雄) family members was very fuzzy at the time. KMT news outlets indicated that there was a ‘big beard’ guy involved, but no name was given. But we all knew this fake news was KMT’s revenge against Lin’s involvement in democratization events,” he wrote.

“As Taiwan’s democratization has evolved through many stages, the younger generation today likely does not know how difficult the process has been,” he added.

“At one time, a Taiwanese student in Los Angeles used his telephone as a news broadcasting center. He would record some news in his telephone recorder. Anyone who wanted to get the anti-KMT news would dial the number and listen to the news. To break KMT’s news control, some overseas Taiwanese thought about hiring a boat patrolling around Taiwan to broadcast ‘democratic’ news into Taiwan. Many people, including foreigners, such as Bruce Jacobs, took risks in helping Taiwanese,” he wrote.

“Before 2000, no one in my generation could ever have envisioned that Taiwan would become a democracy and freely elect its first non-KMT president, Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). Thinking about these past events in Taiwan was like a bittersweet dream come true, with many people to thank for it,” he said.

“For those who have left a footprint — either by their actions, or published or spoken remarks — in this process, like professor Bruce Jacobs, they are a part of Taiwan’s success story,” he said. “We all hope that Taiwan will continue to develop her own unique culture and sense of identity, and become a contributing member of the UN.”

Name Withheld

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