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Mon, Apr 24, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan waking up to history: Peter Ng

HUMAN RIGHTS Peter Ng, the man who tried to assassinate Chiang Ching-kuo, says the `political monster' that was the KMT must be exposed for its past misdeeds

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Peter Ng, seated with his brother-in-law T.T. Deh, says it's about time that the people of Taiwan started gaining a real understanding of their history.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

When 32-year-old Taiwanese student Peter Ng (黃文雄) from Cornell University attempted to assassinate the future ROC president in front of the Plaza Hotel in New York City on April 24, 1970, most people in the international community had little knowledge of Taiwan's complex history and why someone would want to do such a thing.

"Let me stand up like a Taiwanese!" shouted the wiry youngster, overwhelmed by husky police officers after failing in his attempted assassination.

The bang of the young man's gun was regarded as the first high-profile act of violent opposition against the ruling party in Taiwan since the regime of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣家政權), defeated by the Chinese Communists in China, retreated to Taiwan in 1949.

Three decades have passed since the mysterious would-be assassin first said those famous words.

Chiang's regime has long since faded along with the target of the assassination, his son, Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), who passed away in 1987. Its demise culminated with the defeat of the KMT in last month's presidential election, when the DPP's Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) took a narrow victory in a three-way race.

Ng remembers what it has taken to get here, though.

"I have no regrets for what I've done. The Taiwanese people would otherwise not have been given the chance to learn their real history until the huge political monster of the KMT had been beaten," Ng told the Taipei Times.

Ng said the KMT-controlled media had created a stereotype of students abroad advocating Taiwan independence as being "violent activists."

But he said it was time for people in Taiwan and the rest of the world to know the real Taiwan.

"I'm glad to see that Taiwan's complex political circumstances and its unsolved problems with China have been gradually revealed to the world during the second presidential campaign," said Ng, now a human-rights activist.

"I'm looking forward to more space for improving human rights, broadened by the new government, since it's an international issue with a strong consensus in the international community," said Ng.

At a conference yesterday, attended mostly by members of the World United Formosans for Independence (WUFI), which Ng belonged to at the time of the assassination attempt, participants said Taiwanese people should not be lulled into complacency under the new political circumstances.

"Although political power is transferring to the indigenous DPP, Taiwan's people are still lacking a spiritual culture, a commitment to this land," said Wang Chiou-sen (王秋森), a WUFI member and a professor of public health at National Taiwan University.

Members argued that they have now completed their historic mission to elevate Taiwan to become a country with a distinct identity.

"Taiwanese people should not be so forgetful. The victory of the DPP should not be only attributed to efforts made by indigenous pioneers," said Wu Shu-min (吳樹民), vice chairman of the Wu San Lien Foundation for Taiwan Historical Materials (吳三連台灣史料基金會).

Radical Taiwanese students studying abroad established WUFI in 1966, in a bid to overthrow Chiang's regime and to advocate Taiwan's formal independence from China.

After the assassination bid on April 24, 1970, Ng pleaded guilty on charges of attempted murder. Ng's brother-in-law, T.T. Deh (鄭自財), former secretary-general of the WUFI, was also convicted after a FUWI member testified in court that he had given the weapon to Deh for the assassination.

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