It is important to preserve the history of Taiwan’s democratization and memories of the 1979 Formosa Incident, Academia Sinica research fellow Wu Nai-teh (吳乃德) said yesterday.
Wu made the remarks in Taipei at the launch of his latest book, titled Taiwan’s Finest Hour, 1977-1987 (臺灣最好的時刻, 1977-1987).
“The Formosa Incident took place during a time of severe oppression, with people under constant surveillance,” he said, referring to the White Terror era under the then-Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) military dictatorship.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
The Incident, also known as the Kaohsiung Incident, refers to a crackdown by the then-KMT regime on a rally organized by Formosa Magazine and opposition politicians on Dec. 10, 1979, to mark Human Rights Day.
“Yet it was also the time when Taiwanese were most courageous, most selfless and most unified in their struggle for freedom,” he said.
The book’s title also refers to a speech then-British prime minister Winston Churchill made in June 1940 during World War II.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
The Formosa Incident and democracy events from 1977 to 1987 have ramifications to this day, as modern Taiwanese enjoy a free and democratic society, direct elections and protection of human rights, he said.
Also at the book launch were Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文), who was arrested and tried in military court following the Incident; Chen Chung-hsin (陳忠信), former editor-in-chief of Formosa Magazine; and Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良), the magazine’s publisher.
Wu said he wrote the book as if it were stories for his son, and that he gathered information by interviewing principal figures and searching for government files.
It is important to record the accounts of those who faced trial and to document the Formosa Incident for young Taiwanese, he said.
“People born after 1980 had no real experience of the dark days of the Martial Law era, the KMT’s one-party dictatorship and pervasive state surveillance,” Wu said. “This book tells what happened. It describes the military trials and other key events in Taiwan’s democratization.”
“If Taiwan’s democracy is put at risk, it is up to young people to have the will and courage to stand up and safeguard our freedom and democracy,” he said.
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