Mon, Mar 03, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Fei's passing recalls lost era of ethnic cooperation

By Lin Mei-Chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

At a time when ethnic issues are a source of tension, the death of Fei Hsi-ping (費希平), a founding member of the DPP and a former legislator, recalled an era when mainlanders and Taiwanese jointly worked for the country's democratization, irrespective of their ethnic differences.

A chapter of history that is unknown to most of the younger generation, the public's memories of contributions made by mainland Chinese dating back to the 1960s and 1970s came flooding back after Fei passed away on Feb 21. He was 86.

During the period when criticism of the government often led to threats of political suppression, a group of mainlander political thinkers such as Lei Chen (雷震), Tao Pai-chuan (陶百川), Ying Hai-kuang (殷海光), Chang Chung-tung (張忠棟), Hu Fu (胡佛) and Yang Kuo-shu (楊國樞) furthered the nation's democratic movement by instilling a spirit of liberalism in a society run by an authoritarian regime.

Their political views provided the theoretical foundation necessary for establishing a constitutional democracy and evolved into a moving force of reform in the 1980s.

Fu Cheng (傅正) and Fei Hsi-ping went even further to become founding members of the DPP, the nation's first opposition party, established in 1986.

After Fei's death, DPP officials recalled a chapter of history that is seldom mentioned -- when they cooperated with Fei to push for the birth of the party.

National Security Council Secretary-General Kang Ning-hsiung (康寧祥) attributed the establishment of the DPP partly to Fei, citing his unswerving efforts to consolidate the tang wai, or outside the KMT, movement.

Former DPP legislator Lin Cheng-chieh (林正杰), who forged close ties with Fei as they were both among the few mainlanders in the party, praised Fei's courage to help the tang wai camp.

The KMT considered mainlanders joining the movement a provocation. It detested the group of mainlander liberals more than other opposition activists, and was particularly tough on them.

Democracy activist Lei Chen was charged with sedition and sentenced to 10 years in prison for publishing the opposition Free China Fortnightly (自由中國) and launching the China Democratic Party (中國民主黨), which was later suppressed.

A former KMT political worker, Fu Cheng went over to the opposition movement in 1953 by contributing articles to Lei's magazine. He served a jail-term of more than six years for his role as a co-founder of the China Democratic Party.

Born in China's Liaoning Province, Fei graduated from Beijing University and was elected as legislator in 1948. He maintained the position for 42 years until 1990 when he retired.

A KMT member, his party membership was revoked in 1960 when he spoke in defense of Lei Chen.

After then, Fei gradually became connected with the Taiwanese-dominated tang wai movement and became one of the movement's leaders. When the DPP was founded, he was a candidate for the party's founding chairman, but lost the post to Chiang Peng-chien (江鵬堅) by one vote.

Fei was once a popular campaign stumper for the tang wai movement. His speeches in Mandarin with a strong Liaoning accent were in sharp contrast to other addresses in Taiwanese.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) benefited from Fei's campaigning when running for Taipei City Council.

Party members regarded Fei's role in the DPP "a must" on the grounds that his support diluted the perception that DPP was a party only for Taiwanese.

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