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Wed, Oct 17, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Association celebrates local culture

CONSCIOUSNESS The Taiwan Culture Association celebrates its 80th anniversary today and says the country must keep working to promote local traditions


According to a book by Chen Yong-sing (陳永興), a psychiatrist, former legislator and also a social activist, it may have been the Hsu Chang Event (許強, 1913 to 1950) that sounded the death knell of the medical profession's noble tradition. Chen's book, A History of the Development of Medicine in Taiwan (台灣醫療發展史), was published on the 72nd anniversary of the association's founding.

Hsu Chang was the head of the third department of internal medicine at NTU hospital and an outspoken leftist. He was arrested and executed in 1950 for organizing a reading club suspected by the KMT of colluding with the Chinese communists.

Lee Cheng-yuan (李鎮源, born in 1915), a leading expert on venomous snakes and a classmate and colleague of Hsu at NTU medical school, witnessed the way in which the White Terror struck fear throughout the medical profession, destroying its morale.

Currently undergoing hospital treatment, Lee was unavailable to tell the story as he remembers it, but his wife recalls what happened. "He [Lee] called the president [of NTU] several times as he tried to find a way to rescue Hsu. At the beginning, the president said he [Hsu] should be all right. But later, the president told my husband that things had gone wrong," Lee's wife said.

Having tried but failed to rescue Hsu through various channels, Lee busied himself with his scientific research, maintaining a silence on political matters for decades. In 1991, however, he broke that silence and led the "100 Action League" (一百行動聯盟) to pressure the authorities to abolish Article 100 of the Criminal Code and the annual National Day military parade. Under Article 100, the authorities were entitled to charge with sedition any person suspected of a mere intent to overthrow the regime.

In 1992, Lee founded the Taiwan Medical Professionals Alliance (台灣醫界聯盟) to speak out on matters of concern to doctors and re-establish their activist role.

Tseng, Chong, and Wu are members of the alliance. Wu and Tseng were particularly active in the opposition movement during the KMT's rule.

Huang of the Eastern Taiwan Society does not share quite the same background in terms of political involvement. He seems more religious than politically-oriented, with a strong American academic and cultural background after living in the US for more than 20 years. He is something of a modern legend in Taiwan, having served as medical advisor to former US president Ronald Reagan before returning to Taiwan to serve the disadvantaged in Hualien.

Gap to fill

Eighty years after the formation of the Taiwan Culture Association, Taiwan is a democracy ruled by native Taiwanese. Why should it continue to develop Taiwanese consciousness and a Taiwanese identity?

"The more we are educated, the more we are poisoned. In Taiwan, we receive a China-oriented education without knowing our own land and history. We are still under colonial rule. Over the past decades our predecessors have pursued political liberalization, without concerning themselves with human issues. Our task is to fill the cultural gap that our predecessors failed to fill," Tseng concluded.

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