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Wed, Apr 25, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Politicians gather to boost new book

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 21 years ago Reverend Kao was jailed for four years for helping the most wanted dissident of his time, former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Chang Chun-hsiung speaks at yesterday's press conference commemorating the 21st anniversary of Reverend Kao Chun-ming's arrest and the release of his memoirs, The Path to the Cross.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Political heavyweights gathered yesterday at a ceremony to launch the memoirs of the Reverend Kao Chun-ming (高俊明).

They payed homage to the religious leader and political activist, who has been dubbed "the pride of Taiwan" and "the Apostle Paul of the 20th century."

The ceremony was arranged to coincide with the 21st anniversary of the arrest of Kao, who also attended the ceremony.

On April 24, 1980, Kao was arrested and subsequently incarcerated for more than four years for offering asylum to former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德), then the most-wanted political dissident under the KMT regime.

"I am grateful for what Kao did for me. He put his own life at tremendous risk, lending me a helping hand when I was the most sought-after criminal," Shih said at yesterday's inauguration at the Chinan Church for the book The Path to the Cross: The memoir of the Reverend Kao Chun-ming (十字架之路 -- 高俊明牧師回憶錄).

Former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), who got acquainted with Kao when they were jailed in adjoining cells, said it was a blessing for him to have been able to get to know such a noble soul in his time of trouble.

"I should call it a `good karma' for me to have been close to a supreme spirit when I was experiencing the toughest time of my life. Even in prison, Kao never ceased his mission to preach Christianity," Lin recalled.

"He comforted the hearts of the inmates by singing us hymns and reading us the Gospels. His firm convictions -- which surpassed hardship, overrode misery and penetrated thick walls -- soothed our wounded spirits."

Kao, Shih and Lin were targeted for their involvement in the Kao--hsiung Incident (美麗島事件).

The incident, which occurred on Dec. 10 1979, was a state crackdown after an anti-government parade organized by Formosa magazine -- a front for a broad alliance of the so-called "tang wai" (黨外), or "outside the party," activists.

Kao, former director-general of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and now a senior advisor to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), is known for being a respected spiritual leader and a democratic activist.

Having published three declarations in 1970, 1975 and 1979 calling for Taiwan's independence and democracy, Kao explained the motives for his involvement in the democracy movement, aiming to brush aside allegations that his church was "politically ambitious."

"It is out of religious conscience and love of Taiwan's people that the Presbyterian Church is so concerned about politics. There are no so-called political aspirations," he said.

In 1980 Kao was apprehended and imprisoned because he provided assistance to Shih. However, Kao said he never had any regrets for having done so, and it was during that time that he says he felt even closer to God.

"I had no regrets at all for what I did in the past, and I feel honored for being jailed because of my love for Taiwan," Kao told the media yesterday.

He said he had voraciously read the Bible when he was jailed and, consequently, got to understand the truth of the gospels of Christianity.

"I feel grateful because it was during this time that I felt I got to know God better," he added.

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