Best known for his depiction of rural scenes, master painter Chao Tsung-song (趙宗宋) recently embarked on a new work — a portrait of former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) — which he said has given him much anguish and sadness.
Lin, a highly respected figure who left the DPP in 2006, has been on a hunger strike that started on Tuesday to highlight his demand that the yet-to-be-completed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant be scrapped.
The 72-year-old has long campaigned for a nuclear-free country.
“Lin is on a hunger strike to stop the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant. His spirit and strong will have touched the hearts of many people,” said Chao, who lives in Changhua County.
“I felt Lin has unburdened himself of life’s worries. He is prepared to sacrifice himself for the good of society,” Chao said. “Though his selfless act is stirring, we are pained to see that it has come to this.”
Chao said that Lin’s family suffered a terrible tragedy, when his mother and twin daughters were murdered by unknown assailants in 1980.
The murders are suspected to have been the work of then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) intelligence operatives, but the case remains unsolved.
At the time of the murder, Lin was on trial for his involvement in the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident. Also known as the Formosa Incident, the event was an anti-government demonstration organized by Formosa Magazine on Dec. 10, 1979.
“Lin is the one person from the Formosa Incident generation who was most qualified to incriminate the KMT for its atrocities. Yet he chose to put aside any hatred and instead has worked relentlessly on anti-nuclear energy campaigns, with his protest marches across Taiwan,” Chao said.
“Yet Lin’s aim to abolish Taiwan’s nuclear energy has not yet been fulfilled, and now he is sacrificing himself in such a desperate way,” he added.
Chao said that he drew parallels between Lin’s life and Taiwan’s fate.
“He is a man who has suffered terribly through KMT political persecution. Lin is a grandfather and should be at home enjoying his time with his grandchildren. Yet he has chosen a hunger strike to sacrifice himself for society,” Chao said, breaking down in tears.
“While I worked on Lin’s portrait, I was always melancholy with sadness bottled up inside me,” Chao said. “All I can do is capture Lin’s determination and his strong spirit that he has shown during his hunger strike.”
Chao said he sees compassion in both Lin’s eyes and the corners of his mouth lifting slightly, while his facial expression is of steely resolve and courage.
“It was like Lin was already in another world,” he said.
“There are no more burdens for Lin to bear. His responsibility is completed. Lin is offering his body and soul for Taiwan and in doing so, he is making people reflect on the KMT’s numbness, lack of compassion and incompetence in their governance of the nation,“ Chao said.