Thu, Aug 24, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Reverend casts doubt on Shih Ming-teh's morals

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

A prominent Christian minister who played a key role in Taiwan's democratization yesterday criticized the campaign by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) to recall the president.

Reverend Kao Chun-ming (高俊明), who gave shelter to Shih 20 years ago when the activist was on the run from authorities, yesterday said that forcing the president to step down was not helpful, and that political figures should resist worldly temptations.

Kao spoke specifically about Shih's campaign to force President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to resign, saying that insisting on adherence to the democratic system and the rule of law, as well as truly loving Taiwan, were the only ways to save the country.

In 1979, when Shih was the most-wanted fugitive after the Kaohsiung Incident -- a democracy protest that turned into a clash with police -- Kao gave Shih asylum and helped keep him in hiding. He ignored a bounty of NT$3 million (US$91,500) for reporting Shih's whereabouts, and was later arrested by the authoritarian government and jailed for four years and three months for helping the fugitive.

Kao yesterday said that a number of people had been asking him whether he regretted aiding Shih 20 years ago in the light of recent events.

"I do not regret it at all. I protected Shih because I love Taiwan. It was my honor to have suffered for my love of Taiwan. It was worth doing," Kao said.

Kao also delivered a stinging, if oblique, critique of Shih's claims to moral authority.

The reverend said that avarice was the root of vice, and a basic principle for people who truly loved their community was to resist the lure of money, sex and alcohol.

A number of Shih's former acquaintances, including two ex-wives, have criticized Shih's personal habits and sense of financial responsibility since the campaign to unseat the president began.

Kao also made reference to allegations that Shih was receiving money from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Beijing or both.

"It is also important to say no to the temptation of scrambling for power and profit," Kao said.

"If political figures cannot resist these temptations, forcing 100 presidents to step down in the hope of `saving Taiwan' would be in vain," he added.

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