Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday came under fire over scornful remarks she made about long-time human rights activist Peter Huang (黃文雄), who received an Alumni Excellence Award from National Chengchi University earlier this month.
Huang was a key figure in an assassination attempt on Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), son of dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), in New York in 1970, when Taiwan was ruled by an authoritarian KMT regime.
“Why was a [would-be] assassin who tried to kill former president Chiang given an excellent alumni award? Was there any reason to justify [the attempted] killing? I have two sisters graduating from National Chengchi University and they are more excellent than [Huang] because they at least are not killers,” Hung said in a speech at a forum organized by the university to discuss issues related to Chinese students studying in Taiwan.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said Hung’s comments were “inappropriate.”
“Since Hung is a deputy speaker of the legislature, she should shed her personal ideological beliefs when commenting on history. It was also inappropriate for her to intervene in university affairs. Universities should be kept independent of political influence,” Kuan said.
“It seems that Hung still lives in the Martial Law era,” National Chengchi University sociology professor Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華) said. “She has to let her brain evolve to be more receptive to universal values and democratic ideas, rather than sticking to the interpretation of history advocated by the KMT.”
In the face of authoritarianism, it was the courage of those brave enough to take revolutionary measures against tyrants that brought democracy to their countries, Ku said, citing former South African president Nelson Mandela as an example.
Huang returned to Taiwan in 1996, after being forced into exile for 25 years. He was the last of a large group of blacklisted political dissidents denied entry to the country. He has since dedicated himself to human rights activism.
Huang yesterday said he was not surprised by Hung’s remarks because people have different views in a democracy.
Reciting the third paragraph of the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — “Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law” — Huang said his actions in 1970 were based on this belief.
Later yesterday, Hung said her comments on the case were meant to arouse discussion about “whether education should encourage violence.”