Mon, Dec 03, 2007 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: Provincial officials recall drama of democratization

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chen Wen-cheng was found dead on the grounds of National Taiwan University in 1981, one day after being taken away by the secret police.

Another event from that time that stands out is the Kaohsiung Incident in December 1979, when authorities broke up a rally organized by Formosa magazine.

The fifth and sixth assemblies of the provincial council witnessed the most turbulent and dynamic periods of Taiwan's democratic development, as the dangwai emerged in the mid 1970s and gained momentum.

Dangwai members began to win seats in local elections. Taoyuan County commissioner Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良); provincial councilors Lin, Yu Chen Yueh-ying, Su Hong Yueh-jiao (蘇洪月嬌), Chang Chun-hung (張俊宏) and Chang Hsien-dong (張賢東) were among these.

The emergence of an organized dissident voice in elected positions brought unprecedented changes to the assembly. The fifth term saw 11 dangwai councilors elected and the number jumped to 21 in the sixth term.

Former grand justice Su Chun-hsiung (蘇俊雄), who was elected to the council in 1970, said he still remembers the first day of the sixth term vividly.

Council members were supposed to elect a new council speaker and vice speaker, but Lin -- then a council member -- questioned why the meeting was being chaired by provincial governor Hsieh Tung-min (謝東閔) rather than one of the councilors.

Lin stunned the council by leading dangwai councilors out of the session in protest.

And the drama did not end there.

The following day, one of the dangwai councilors filed a motion against the oath councilors were required to take, which the dangwai said was more suitable for government appointees than elected councilors. The dangwai proposed seeking a constitutional interpretation from the Council of Grand Justices to resolve the issue.

They "lit a spark of fire in the nation's democratic development and the chain reaction was enormous," Su said.

Chiou Lien-hui (邱連輝), who served as as a member of the council during the fifth and sixth terms, was chosen by dangwai councilors to run for deputy council speaker for the sixth term. Chiou won the full support of his 13 dangwai colleagues, but lost in the vote to the KMT contender in the 77-person council.

Talking about one of his fondest memories from his time as a councilor, Chiou said president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) once told him to stop addressing national affairs on the floor of the provincial council. Chiou recalled telling Chiang that if he did not like it, he should draw a clearer line between the provincial and national administrations.

Since the shifting of power to the central government, the Taiwan Provincial Government continues to exist, albeit with next to no authority, and the assembly has become a consultative body.

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