Fri, Feb 15, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Democracy pioneer and Presbyterian minister dies

By Liu Li-jen and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Reverend Kao Chun-ming holds a Lunar New Year couplet he wrote at a news conference at the legislature in Taipei on Dec. 31, 2011.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Iconic democracy pioneer and Christian minister the Reverend Kao Chun-ming (高俊明), 89, passed away yesterday at 5:25pm, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan said.

Kao, a life-long Taiwan independence advocate, was known for helping Shih Ming-te (施明德) give the authorities the slip, after Shih became a fugitive because of his involvement in the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident during the White Terror era.

Arrested in April 1980, Kao was sentenced to seven years in prison, but later served as an adviser to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Presidential Office spokesperson Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said in a statement yesterday President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) mourned Kao’s death and that the nation had lost a great man.

“Kao was a guiding light for Taiwanese democracy and his courage will be remembered forever, as the bush that burned and was not consumed,” Chang said.

Kao was born in 1929. His grandfather Kao Chang (高長) was the nation’s first Presbyterian convert and a follower of medical doctor and missionary James L. Maxwell Sr.

In an interview with the Chinese Christian Tribune, Kao Chun-ming said he was a willful child who hated going to church and studying.

He came to appreciate his circumstances and the importance of intellectual pursuits only after attending night school in Japan, where students from less fortunate backgrounds worked to earn a living by day and studied by night, Kao Chun-ming said.

Witnessing the carnage after the allied forces bombed Japan in World War II, he experienced a spiritual awakening and decided to attend a seminary, Kao Chun-ming said.

Kao Chun-ming served as the principle of Yushan Theological College and Seminiary from 1957 to 1970.

In 2012, then-Tainan mayor William Lai (賴清德) visited him at his residence and presented him with a commendation that honored him as a “Taiwanese of high character.”

Last month, Kao Chun-ming cosigned a public letter asking Tsai not to seek re-election next year, citing the electoral drubbing that the Democratic Progressive Party received in November last year.

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