President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday lauded political activist Kuo Yu-hsin (郭雨新) as a "father of Taiwan's democracy," saying that those who refuse to learn from history will suffer the consequences.
"Freedom and democracy do not fall from the sky nor are they favors bestowed upon us by dictators," Chen said. "They are hard earned by our ancestors who were willing to sacrifice their life, youth, blood and sweat for us."
Chen said he has seen some people refuse to face or accept history, while some make strenuous efforts to protect the privileges enjoyed by former tyrants or boycott the establishment of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.
"Experience tells us that those who refuse to face history and learn a lesson from it are doomed to be forsaken by history," he said.
Chen made the remarks while addressing an exhibition held in commemoration of Kuo's 100th birthday at the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall yesterday morning.
Describing Kuo as a "father of Taiwan's democracy," Chen said that Kuo campaigned aggressively for democratic reform about 50 years ago. His initiatives included the formation of an opposition party, direct presidential elections, nationalization of the armed forces, clear separation of the state and party coffers and the establishment of a new national title.
Outlining Taiwan's democratic achievements over the past seven years, Chen said that he was glad that the country had the first transfer of power in 2000.
In 2002, he declared that there was one country on either side of the Taiwan Strait.
The Referendum Law (
This year, the government launched first attempt to join the WHO and UN under the name "Taiwan."
To further deepen Taiwan's democracy, Chen said that the administration hoped to hold the nation's second national referendum concurrently with next year's elections with the aim of making referendums a normal part of everyday life and a democratic system.
Kuo inspired many younger activists to participate in the democracy movement, Chen said, and although many paid a high price for their beliefs, they never regretted or lost faith because they believed winter would eventually pass and spring would come.