Among the major topics of discussion following the fatal shooting of Taiwanese fisherman Hung shih-cheng (洪石成) has been the demeanor of his eldest daughter, Hung Tzu-chien (洪慈綪), whose clear articulation has cut to the heart of the issue during media interviews.
“My father’s death is now a fact. I just hope the government will wake up, so that all Taiwanese fishermen can receive proper protection,” she said.
Hung Tzu-chien, 44, is a math teacher working in a cram school in Greater Kaohsiung.
Observers attribute her impressive speaking skills to having to deal with the exacting demands of students’ parents.
Following her father’s death, she returned to her hometown of Siaoliouciou (小琉球), an island in Pingtung County, to help organize funeral arrangements.
Having graduated from Pingtung Girls’ Senior High School in Pingtung City and Cheng Shiu University in Greater Kaohsiung, her intellectual prowess is respected by her peers in Siaoliouciou.
Hung Tzu-chien said she decided to face the public and speak out for the local community not only because of the death of her father, but because of the long-standing harassment of Siaoliouciou’s fishermen.
“My moral principles to seek justice and passion to help those in need are characteristics I inherited from my father. I just hope his sacrifice will not be in vain,” she said.
She said her father was always out at sea fishing, so he rarely had time to spend with his family.
“On one occasion I was on the way home from elementary school and was caught in a downpour. I ran quickly and saw my father come running for me with an umbrella. That scene kept cropping up in my mind as I received my father’s corpse [after the boat was towed back to Pingtung on May 11,]” she said, adding that she was “determined to turn my father’s death into a cause to fight for the rights of all fishermen in Taiwan, to wake up the government, which has always neglected their long-standing predicament.”
“Has the Fisheries Agency done anything for the hard-working fishermen of our country?” she asked. “Our fishermen have been bullied and trampled on for more than 30 years. How could local fishermen’s associations and the government’s Fisheries Agency not know anything about it for all these years?”
She said she hopes that when the current Taiwan-Philippines row is resolved, the government will undertake a comprehensive examination of the nation’s fishery rights.
In response to praise for her resolve and outspokenness in the face of misfortune, she remains modest.
Hung Tzu-chien said she is as strong and courageous as all Taiwanese fishermen, and she was expressing their feelings to the government.
“I do not want the government to start a war, but just to show real guts and determination,” she said.
“We must not let the Philippine government sweep the whole thing under the carpet. If this happens, Taiwan’s national dignity would be eroded,” she said.