Fri, Sep 11, 2009 - Page 3 News List

'Neo Formosa Weekly' resumes on the Web

'DANGWAI' SPIRITChen Shui-bian is a former president of the pro-independence magazine, which was founded by Huang Tien-fu in 1984 during the Martial Law era

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chen Chi-mai, second right, and colleagues hold up copies of Neo Formosa Weekly magazine which resumed publishing in electronic format yesterday.


The magazine Neo Formosa Weekly (蓬萊島雜誌) resumed publication in electronic form yesterday with the aim of revitalizing the push for an independent republic.

Founded by Huang Tien-fu (黃天福) in 1984, Neo Formosa Weekly published 52 issues, 51 of which were banned. Former president of the magazine Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), former editor-in-chief Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) and Huang were imprisoned for publishing an article that said former New Party lawmaker Elmer Feng’s (馮滬祥) doctoral dissertation was plagiarized.

Feng filed libel charges against the magazine. While Chen’s appeal against the conviction was pending, he left his post as a Taipei City councilor and returned to his home county of Tainan to run for county commissioner. Chen lost the election by a handful of votes and his supporters alleged that the vote had been rigged by the electoral authorities.

The magazine’s president, Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), a former deputy secretary-general at the Presidential Office, said yesterday the goal of the magazine was clear — to protect Taiwan’s sovereignty and to build a new, independent republic.

Describing this year as full of misery, Chen Chi-mai said Taiwan had not only suffered the deadliest flooding in 50 years, but had also seen damage to its sovereignty, democracy and human rights since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) returned to power.

“The corruption cases brought against former president Chen [Shui-bian] are a perfect example of political interference in legal cases,” he said.

While the dangwai (黨外,“outside the KMT”) opposition movement of the 1980s sought to strive for freedom of speech and the freedom to form political parties, Chen Chi-mai said it was necessary to restore the “dangwai spirit” and consolidate public opinion. The magazine’s old office in Kaohsiung has been chosen as the headquarters and Chen Chi-mai said it also hoped to establish branch offices elsewhere.

Magazine editor-in-chief Wang Ding-yu (王定宇), a Tainan City councilor, said the magazine was a communication platform and a tool to organize opposition forces.

“We may be small, but we will not easily back down if the administration continues to ignore the public opinion,” he said.

Huang said the then-KMT administration of the 1980s imposed severe punishments on Neo Formosa Weekly, sentencing the publication’s managers to jail and slapping a NT$2 million fine on the cash-strapped magazine.

“We later learned from declassified documents that the KMT government planned to wipe out the publication,” he said.

Things are different now, he said, but the aim of the magazine would remain the same — to protect Taiwan-centered consciousness and report on the erroneous, unfair and unjust.

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