Fri, Feb 06, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Book illustrates determination

POLITICAL JOURNEY A book launched yesterday describes CLA Chairperson Chen Chu's lifelong fight for human rights, coupled with Taiwan's turbulent recent history

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Chairperson Chen Chu (陳菊) said yesterday at the launch of a book about her political life, Love and Combat -- Chen Chu's Political Journey, that this work is a search for determination and an incentive to manage crises. The book highlights several troublesome dealings, due to sensitive international-relations matters, with countries from where Taiwan had imported foreign workers.

"This book is not simply a record of my political journey, but a search for the persistence and motivation to solve crises, and the hope that Taiwanese society will head in the right direction," Chen said yesterday.

The book was published 24 years after her release from prison. Lu Cheng-ta (呂政達), an award-winning author and an experienced media figure, was the author of the book.

Chen was born in Ilan in 1940 and has been a harbinger of Taiwan's democracy movement. She is often referred to as the "Big Sister" of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Chen was arrested and imprisoned for 12 years for her role in the Kaohsiung Incident, the human-rights rally which led to a crackdown by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

In the book, Lu described the day of Chen's arrest in Changhua in 1979, when around 60 secret police officers surrounded the nunnery where she was hiding and waited for her to step out of the sanctuary. On Feb. 4, 1986, she was released from jail.

Once she regained her freedom, Chen again became a human-rights activist and she worked for the Asia Pacific Human Rights Association and the Taiwan Association for Human Rights.

Between 1995 and 1998, she took over the job as the director of the Taipei City Bureau of Social Affairs and later became director of Kaohsiung City's Bureau of Social Affairs. In 1990, after President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) election, Chen Chu was appointed head of the CLA.

Backed by her experiences in the human rights area, as soon as she took over the chairmanship of the CLA, Chen started fighting for the rights of foreign workers. In 2002, she abolished the regulation that all female foreign workers had to undergo pregnancy tests every six months during their employment in Taiwan, as well as the regulation that prohibited them from getting married during their term of employment here.

Chen felt that these regulations violated human rights and insisted that both regulations be abolished despite loud protests by employers.

Lu also describes Chen's dealings with the countries which send workers to Taiwan -- Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia and Indonesia -- where international-relations issues are often the crux of controversies.

For instance, in 2002, Chen was about to head for Thailand to sign a contract with the Thai labor department regarding the conditions of Thai workers in Taiwan. The day before her departure, Taiwan's representative made an emergency phone call indicating that Thailand no longer welcomed Chen's visit, as China had placed pressure on Southeast Asian countries after Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) visited Indonesia.

During the incident, Chen displayed her determination in opposing the Thai government and holding firm her belief that Taiwan should be treated with the highest respect in the international arena. Chen's eventual trip to Thailand also signified a victory for Taiwan's international relations.

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