A terminally ill man’s passion for Taiwan prompted him to tell his friends: “There is no hope for Taiwan if environmental protection is not right.”
This man is Chung Ting-mao (鐘丁茂), an associate professor at Providence University’s department of ecology, who was recently transferred to a care ward after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
Hung Hsiang (洪箱), chairwoman of the Wanbao Community Development Association in Miaoli County’s Houlong Township (後龍), said Chung would be the first to express support for struggling farmers and to encourage them to fight to the end.
Wanbao Borough (灣寶) was notified in 1995 that their land was to be expropriated to make room for the fourth phase of expansion at the Hsinchu Science Park, sparking demonstrations and opposition that continue to this day.
The Regional Planning Commission last month rejected a request by the Miaoli County Government to extend the deadline for submitting a plan for the industrial park.
Chung is Wanbao’s savior, Hung said, adding that it was Chung who made it possible for the farmers to keep their land.
Chung’s two children once accompanied him to Wanbao and saw for themselves how respected their father was in the borough. Afterward, they told their mother how they had thought that their father was always busy, but had never realized how great a person he was.
Chang Feng-nian (張豐年), a doctor from Greater Taichung who worked with Chung on environmental protection, said Chung not only helped Wanbao, but also got involved with protests against the third phase of expansion at the Central Taiwan Science Park and took on various roles at the Dadu Weir, the Hushan Reservoir and helped with preservation efforts at Dajia River (大甲溪).
He never backed down, even when facing threats, Chang said.
And that was exactly how his wife, Lin Shu-hui (林淑慧), saw him: A man with firm beliefs and who “never gives up,” whether the issue is environmental protection or battling cancer.
Giving the example of eating, Lin said Chung suffered from pain so severe that he could barely eat. Although Lin said he should not force himself, Chung said he was going to eat — even if he had to do so very slowly.
He could take two to three hours to eat just one meal, but no matter how long it took him, he maintained that this gave him the strength to fight the cancer, Lin said.
Despite being informed by doctors that he would likely die soon, Chung’s condition has seen a turn for the better because of his tenacious grip on life. Family and friends pray that he will overcome this trial and once more fight for the country’s environment.
A miracle could happen, Chang said, adding that although targeted therapy initially appeared to be ineffective, tests had recently shown that it might be working.
Having been moved back to a general ward, Chung seemed a little tired when he was interviewed, but word by word and in a weak voice, he would not shy away from providing a bit of advice.
“There is no hope for Taiwan if environmental protection is not done well,” he said.
TRANSLATED BY JAKE CHUNG, STAFF WRITER