Sat, Sep 09, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Feature: Once comrades, dissidents now share bitter rivalries

BURDEN OF HISTORY Many of the pan-green camp's heavyweights became acquainted through their political activism, and their past is weighing heavily on their present actions

By Lee Hsin-fang,Huang Chung-jung, Hsu Shao-hsuan, Huang Po-lang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

When a pan-green legislator on Thursday delivered a stinging attack against the man behind the campaign to depose the president, his actions epitomized the complicated history that many former dissidents share, despite having followed disparate career paths.

It all started in 1979, with the Kaohsiung Incident, in which a democracy protest turned into a full-fledged clash with riot police broke out. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government started to hunt down opposition activists immediately after the confrontation.

Former DPP chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) -- at the time a prominent dissident running from the authorities -- took refuge in the Gikong Presbyterian Church (義光教會), and then fled before the police could catch up with him.

Unfortunately, the head of the church, Reverend Kao Chun-ming (高俊明), as well as dissident Huang Chao-hui (黃昭輝) (now a DPP legislator), the dentist Chang Wen-ying (張溫鷹) (who later became the mayor of Taichung) and seven other dissidents were arrested and sentenced for aiding and abetting the fugitive Shih.

Huang Chao-hui said Shih immediately called him on the night he fled the church, saying "The KMT's crackdown has begun!"

According to Huang, who was a volunteer at Formosa magazine (美麗島雜誌) at that time, both Vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and Chen Chu (陳菊) -- who later became the Council of Labor Affairs chairwoman -- also hid atop the church. Three days after the Kaohsiung Incident, they were arrested by the police around 4am or 5am, but Shih managed to escape.

Huang said that Reverend Chao Chen-er called him and asked him to hide Shih.

hiding spots

He drove Shih from one hiding spot to another. Huang said that it was difficult to hide Shih, because the KMT was going to great lengths to search for the activist.

"The reward for catching Shih was even raised from US$500,000 to US$5 million," Huang said. "But none of us sold him out."

He said that at the time, Shih was striving for Taiwan's democratization and was a good man, not a "traitor" as the KMT had portrayed him.

Shih was eventually arrested in Taipei's Ximending district, and those who had assisted him were caught as well.

A total of 10 people were arrested for helping Shih while he was on the run, including Huang, Kao, Chang, Chao, Shih Jui-yun (施瑞雲), Lin Wen-Chen (林文珍), Wu Wen (吳文), Lin Shu-chih (林樹枝), Hsu Chin-fu (許晴富) and Hsu Chiang Chin-ying (許江金櫻).

Huang said that many of those people did not know one another until they met in court.

This complex history was on full display when Huang blasted Shih on Thursday, calling the former dissident a "beast" during a press conference in response to Shih's criticisms of Reverend Kao.

The exchange began when Kao criticized Shih as greedy and materialistic, and accused him of selling out Taiwan.

Shih responded that because Kao had previously been appointed national policy adviser and senior adviser to the president, he did not dare to criticize President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) now.


Huang jumped to the reverend's defense, saying that Kao sheltered Shih 27 years ago and had been jailed for four years and three months after helping him to hide in his church.

"How could you say anything bad about your past benefactor?" Huang asked. "Don't you have a conscience?"

"Is Shih qualified to criticize Kao, who went to jail for him?" he added.

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