Former presidential adviser and Taiwanese independence advocate Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) on Sunday said that many of his proposals for the building of a democratic Taiwan have been realized, though two major tasks remain unfinished 53 years after the publication of his renowned “manifesto.”
Adopting a new constitution and joining the UN are the tasks, he said at a book launch to mark the republication of two of his books.
Since he and several colleagues launched a democracy campaign in 1964 and released the Manifesto of Taiwanese People’s Self-Rescue Movement, Taiwan has adopted direct popular presidential elections, normalized the legislature and upholds the freedoms of speech, media and association, Peng said.
Peng’s political proposals and his life story are detailed in A Taste of Freedom (自由的滋味) and A Perfect Escape (逃亡) — the two books being published.
“Creating a constitution fit for Taiwan’s long-term development and gaining UN membership under the name Taiwan are important for the nation,” he said.
Although more than half a century has elapsed, the importance of realizing these goals remains the same, he said.
“When will they ever be realized? To be frank, I do not know,” Peng, 93, said.
Peng fled Taiwan in 1970 and returned in 1992.
In 1996, he ran in the nation’s first direct presidential election as the Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate, gaining 21 percent of the vote. The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) won with 54 percent.
Peng said over the years many of his readers have asked why he has not disclosed more details about his escape from Taiwan and life abroad.
“There should be no problem now that a half century has passed, but some family members of those who helped me and who have since passed away still ask that I do not reveal their names,” Peng said.
Peng said one person told him privately a few years ago that his father waited more than 50 years to tell him how Peng had lost his arm during the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945.
A Taiwanese physician helped a Japanese doctor operate on Peng, the physician’s son said, a fact Peng himself has readily acknowledged, publicly thanking the physician as an old friend and benefactor.
“Although Taiwan is now a free and democratic society, and martial law has long since ended, this physician still dared not tell this story until five or six years ago,” Peng said.
“Imagine the impact the KMT’s policies of terrifying people had here — a man dared not tell the story of having helped me until 60 years later,” Peng said.
Academia Historica president Wu Mi-cha (吳密察) lauded Peng as a brave and honest intellectual who has the knowledge and courage to tell “the powers that be” what he think is best for Taiwan.