Sun, Feb 09, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Liu's life a victory over misfortune

MEMORIALAs the nation mourned national adviser Liu Hsia, friends and family remembered a lady who fought for the rights of the disadvantaged despite her own battle with ill health

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

National Policy Advisor Liu Hsia pictured at a press conference last May. Liu passed away yesterday morning following an alleged attack by her Indonesian caregiver.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

Handicapped writer and social activist Liu Hsia (劉俠), who was hospitalized on Friday for injuries allegedly afflicted by her resident Indonesian caregiver, died of heart failure yesterday morning at the age of 61.

Though mourning her sudden death, Liu's family members said they had no intention of pressing a lawsuit against the maid, identified as Vinarsih, who doctors said suffers from mental problems.

Liu, founder of the Eden Social Welfare Foundation and author of over 40 books and articles, had been confined to a wheelchair after a rare disease called atrophic arthritis struck when she was 12.

A sanguine and pious Christian, Liu did not allow the disease, which damaged nearly 90 percent of her joints and caused her tremendous suffering during her lifetime, to stop her from helping disadvantaged groups.

"Except love, I have nothing," she often told colleagues at Eden, a charity group dedicated to promoting welfare for physically challenged people.

The 33-year-old maid reportedly burst into Liu Hsia's bedroom in the small hours of Friday in a frenetic bid to drag her employer from the bed onto the floor. The maid told police that nightmares of earthquakes was the cause of her behavior.

Chang Teh-ming (張德明), deputy superintendent at Tri-Service, said Liu Hsia sustained broken bones and bruises, injuries that, he noted, dealt a further blow to her already frail health.

According to her Liu Kan (劉侃), Liu said before being sent to the hospital she felt cold and suspected it might be a sign from God to move heavenward.

While alive, Liu Hsia, also known by her pen name Hsing Lin-tsu (杏林子), often jokingly called herself a "walking-quadriplegic fossil." Her chronic illnesses deprived her of formal schooling but she managed to carve out a career as a writer, even though she had difficulty holding a pen.

Life of Liu

1942 Born of Feb. 28 in Xinglin Township, Fufeng County, Shaanxi Province.

1954 Attends primacy school in Peitou, contracts arthritis. Disease causes her to leave school. Peitou Primary School still issues a graduation diploma, the highest education level she was to achieve.

1977 Begins to write motivational literature. Her first book, A Song To Life (生之歌), is included in primary school teaching materials in both Hong Kong and Taiwan.

1980 Receives an award for outstanding young women.

1982 On Dec. 11, founds the Eden Social Welfare Foundation for disabled people. Publishes Another Kind Of Love.

1990 The Welfare Law for the Handicapped and Disabled is passed.

2001Becomes national policy advisor to the president.

2002 Last book is published.

2003 Dies on Feb. 8.


Huang Yu-yang (黃玉雁), one of Liu's writer friends, said that while others record their literary thoughts with hands, Liu produced her pieces with body and soul.

Most of Liu's works share the theme of encouraging people to surmount life's adversities. Elementary and junior high schools have used her articles in their Mandarin-language textbooks.

In 1980, Liu was chosen as one of the country's 10 most outstanding women. She used the NT$200,000 prize money to establish the Eden foundation.

"Though physically weak, Liu was strong in every other way," said Sun Yueh (孫越), a Christian friend and former film actor. "The peace and joy she displayed throughout her life set a positive example for all."

Sun remembered visiting Liu in the wake of Typhoon Nari, which flooded out hundreds of thousands of apartments including Eden's office. Unruffled, Liu told Sun the flood gave her the opportunity to consider moving to another location.

In 1982, Liu won a National Literature and Art Award. Her publisher Tsai Wen-fu (蔡文甫) said he regretted the loss of a friend, who left a short story unfinished.

"Days ago, editors and I just discussed how to revise the piece," he said. "Now it is too late to make amendments."

Liu's lifelong efforts to ease the plight of disadvantaged groups led President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to choose her as a national policy advisor in May 2001.

Despite a salary as high as that of a Cabinet minister, she once turned down Chen's reappointment the next May, saying she made no contribution during her first one-year term. Only after the president promised to consult her more frequently did Liu agree to stay on.

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