Former New Taipei City deputy mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) was on Thursday criticized by the Nylon Cheng Liberty Foundation over comments he made about his involvement in an incident in 1989 which led to democracy activist Deng Nan-jung’s (鄭南榕) self-immolation.
Hou was clearly avoiding taking any responsibility because of his participation in the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) New Taipei City mayoral primary, the foundation said in a statement in response to remarks Hou made in an interview with the Chinese-language Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) that he was only following orders when he led a group of police officers who surrounded and attempted to enter Deng’s office at Freedom Era Weekly (自由時代) magazine in January 1989.
Deng was charged with sedition for publishing a draft “Taiwan Republic Constitution” in his magazine.
On April 7, 1989, the 71st day of his self-imprisonment at the magazine, Deng set himself on fire.
At the time Hou was head of the Taipei Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division.
In the interview Hou said that, apart from attempting to make a warranted arrest, the police’s mission was also about saving a life, adding that it was “not completely successful.”
Deng had publicly declared at the time that “the KMT will only take my body; they will never take me alive,” the foundation said, adding that Hou should have understood that clear message.
“Former Nazi SS member Oskar Groening never personally killed anyone, but in 2015, at the age of 94, he was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 people and sentenced to four years in prison for his involvement in the genocide at the Auschwitz concentration camp,” the foundation said.
Hou’s claim that he was trying to “save a life” is hypocritical and is an attempt to cover up the truth, the foundation added.
“Avoiding the truth of the past is a secondary injury,” Deng Nan-jung’s daughter, Deng Chu-mei (鄭竹梅), said in a statement issued by the foundation in response to Hou’s comments.
As potential a candidate for a mayoral position, [Hou] should explain in detail his philosophy about the past so that it can be assessed by voters, Deng Chu-mei said.
Hou should not use upsetting Deng Nan-jung’s family as an excuse to avoid talking about it, she added.
When asked about the foundation and Deng Chu-mei’s response, Hou said he understands, embraces and respects the opinions of Deng Nan-jung’s family.
Additional reporting by Yeh Kuan-yu
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