Mon, Mar 21, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Chen Shui-bian pays homage to democracy activists

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian yesterday pays homage to a late democratic pioneer Lei Chen by presenting a bouquet of flowers on his grave in Nangang, Taipei.


On the anniversary of his re-election, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday visited the graves of several democracy pioneers to express his respect for their contributions to Taiwan's democracy, and he once again publicly urged people to take to the streets on Saturday to protest China's "Anti-Secession" Law.

Yet Chen remained quiet about his plans for the March 26 march.

Chen yesterday morning first went to a cemetery in Nangang to give a memorial service for Lei Chen (雷震), Ying Hai-kuang (殷海光) and Fu Cheng (傅正), who were democracy activists who challenged the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime during the 1960s.

Lei was accused of sedition and collaborating with communists, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for publishing Free China (自由中國), a biweekly publication advocating liberalism that was sharply critical of the KMT's autocratic form of leadership. Ying was a liberal scholar who contributed to Free China and was viewed as a thorn in the side for the Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) administration. Fu Cheng (傅正) was one of the founding members of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which was established in 1986.

After leaving Nangang, Chen then went to Pali in Taipei County to visit the tomb of late DPP Chairman Huang Hsin-chieh (黃信介) and gave a speech after the memorial service, saying that the presidential election held on March 20 last year was a fair election, in contrast to the elections held by the KMT when it was in power.

"According to my experience participating in politics for more than 20 years, I would say that the presidential election last year was the cleanest and fairest election in Taiwan's election history," Chen said in a speech delivered at the cemetery. "During the era of the KMT regime, the KMT campaigned for specific candidates by mobilizing the country's military and administrative systems and exploiting government resources whenever elections were held -- including during the presidential election in 2000, which was an open secret."

Chen said that his government terminated such practices and was dedicated to realizing the goals of "nationalizing the army" and "neutralizing the administrative organizations" -- making a clear distinction between the government and political parties.

"The verdict of the High Court, the result of the vote recount and a report issued by the US Department of State have proved that this election was just," Chen said. "Although some imperfections were found during the recount process, it was certain that there was no widespread vote-buying or fraud, as some people claimed."

"I can understand people had emotional reactions to election results that did not meet their expectations, but I hope those who have doubts about the election stop insulting the more than 200,000 election and legal workers [involved in the vote]," Chen added.

Meanwhile, Chen once again accentuated the importance of the March 26 demonstration, calling on the people of Taiwan to step out bravely on that day. This is the fifth time that Chen has publicly promoted the march, but he was still tight-lipped about whether he would attend the demonstration.

"Lei, Ying, Fu and Huang risked their lives to fight their rulers, and they proved a truism: As long as you stand on the right side of history, you'll never be alone," Chen said. "I deeply believe that people power is the best weapon to protect Taiwan when we are faced with China's `Anti-Secession' Law."

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