Thu, Feb 27, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Former lawmaker and founding DPP member dies at 86

INTREPID CAMPAIGNER Fei Hsi-ping, who was born in China, once had his KMT membership revoked for supporting grassroots democracy

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fei Shi-ping (費希平), a founding member of the DPP and a former senior legislator, died of heart failure on Friday in Los Angeles at the age of 86, according to the Central News Agency yesterday.

Born in China's Liao-ning Province, Fei was one of the few DPP members from China.

As a KMT member, his party membership was revoked for his involvement in an incident with Lei Chen (雷震) -- a well-known political prisoner and democracy activist who was charged with sedition during the early years of the KMT's rule.

Afterward Fei gradually became connected with the Taiwanese-dominated dang wai movement in the late 1980s and became a prominent leader in the movement. When the DPP was founded in 1986, he was a candidate for the party's founding chairman, but lost the post by one vote.

In 1988, he broke away from the DPP due to discord with his party colleagues on ethnic issues. He left the party and then faded away from the political scene after he moved to the US.

The only DPP senior legislator in the "permanent parliament," whose members the KMT claimed would stand for re-election once they recovered China, Fei became a target when the DPP pushed for parliamentary reform. He was under pressure from the DPP to give up his seat in the legislature. The issue was a source of great tension between him and the party.

Fei became a political loner, sandwiched between his former KMT comrades and his new Taiwanese DPP friends. Leading dang-wai figure Kang Ning-hsiang (康寧祥), now the secretary-general of the National Security Council, was one of his few political allies.

The democratic movement was helped by many liberal mainlander scholars, who provided the theoretical foundation for the necessity of establishing a constitutional democracy. Fei was one of them. But this group of intellectuals left the party one-by-one due to disagreements over ethnic issues.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday sent his condolence to Fei's family members, while praising his contributions to the nation's democratization.

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