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Sat, Mar 31, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Warriors of a new generation

About twenty young politicians who came of age during the student movements of the 1980s and '90s are running in the DPP primary for the year-end legislative elections. Some are already legislators, while others are seeking to enter the legislature for the first time. All are considered bright, are well-educated and share a common aim: to help improve the quality of the legislative process. Staff reporter Lin Mei-chun spoke to three of the most prominent

"It was quite a natural choice for me because I was interested in nothing else but fighting for the benefits of the under-privileged," said Lee.

A few years after his involvement in the labor movement, he was elected to become a National Assembly deputy in 1991. Since entering the political area, he has gotten reputation for subtlety of thought and deft in political skills. Following two terms in the National Assembly, he was elected a lawmaker in 1998.

When questioned about how he coped with the pressure from voters concerning his dovish stance on the Fourth Power Plant project -- he had appealed to the ruling DPP to take into account its political weakness in a legislature dominated by the opposition -- the lawmaker, seeking his second term, responded honestly.

"Our political forefathers -- the Formosa generation -- risked their lives to uphold their beliefs. Politicians can't simply be obsessed about votes. They should have the guts to hold firmly to their principles and also constantly examine whether their words and deeds are right," Lee said.

Liu I-te

Known for his extreme measures in fighting for a more democratic campus, 40-year-old Liu I-te, the former National Assembly deputy and now the director of the DPP's Department of Organizational Development, was considered one of the first trailblazers in the student movement of the early 1980s.

"Liu was a charismatic and strategic leader," said Lee Wen-chung, commenting on the days when he and his longtime friend battled together for students' rights.

"Not intimidated by any penalization, Liu would resort to more drastic measures, such as mounting posters or painting words of protest to challenge the school's bureaucracy. At a time when espousing Taiwanese independence was a taboo subject in society, Liu was daring enough to openly advocate the idea at school."

Wreathed in smiles, Liu was proud of being a staunch protester as a student.

"The school administration suspended our club, which was organized to denounce unreasonable systems, and banned our magazines -- a primary avenue to disseminate our ideas. But nothing stopped me. I attracted more and more followers instead, with whom I teamed up to pursue our objectives," Liu said.

When asked what drew him to be involved in the democracy movement, Liu recalled a traumatizing experience he underwent in Chiayi Senior High School.

"One time I initiated a discussion concerning the corruption case of a local politician in class. Unexpectedly, a classmate who said I was attempting to spread anti-government remarks, tipped the school authorities off about me. I consequently got slapped in the face by a military instructor for refusing to write a confession letter," he said.

"It was a significant event in my life because I was furious for having being reprimanded when I had done nothing wrong. My interests shifted as a result, and incited the rebellious side of me. After originally opting to study medicine, I decided to major in social science instead in the hope of creating change in a society that lacked justice."

During the years he worked towards the goal of Taiwan's democratization, Liu stood out for his ethnic background as a mainlander, as the movement was viewed more of a choice for Taiwanese -- the exploited group under an administration dominated by mainlanders.

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