Senior Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members yesterday gathered to commemorate the party’s founders and history at Taipei’s Grand Hotel, the birthplace of the party, one day ahead of its 34th anniversary.
Speaking at the event honoring the 135 founding members of the party, Legislative Yuan Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃), a facilitator in the establishment of the party and the event’s organizer, said that the gathering should have taken place in 2000 — when the DPP first assumed power and Taiwan saw its first change of government.
Apologizing for the overdue gathering, You said that he was happy to see the 49 “old comrades in arms” who showed up, but also sad that more than 44 late founding members could not be there.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
Founded on Sept. 28, 1986, outside the Grand Hotel, the DPP was the first democratic party in the Chinese-speaking world, playing an essential role in forming Taiwan’s unique democratic process, You said.
Taiwan’s democratic institutions are a role model for the world, he added.
It was against the backdrop of severe political oppression of the Martial Law era that the party was formed, and credit for its success goes to all Taiwanese of the 1980s, he said, adding that he is proud to be a part of that generation.
Taiwan’s “dark political period” contained countless incidents of oppression, especially during the eight years preceding the party’s establishment, including assassinations and judicial persecution, he said.
People advocating democracy or attempting to form political parties at that time faced imprisonment, You said, citing the 1960 arrest of Lei Chen (雷震) and the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident.
A democracy pioneer, Chen was arrested on Sept. 4, 1960, charged with treason and sentenced to 10 years in prison for publishing a pro-democracy magazine.
The Kaohsiung Incident, also known as the Formosa Incident, refers to a police crackdown, under the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime, on a rally held by Formosa Magazine and opposition politicians on Dec. 10, 1979.
Although some have said that the DPP’s establishment was silently approved, or even orchestrated, by then-president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), You said that they are mistaken.
It was the founding members who really gave birth to the party, as they showed no fear and were willing to take the risk in signing the petition to form the party, despite the then-KMT regime, he said.
Although the original petition has been lost and some of the founding members remain unidentified, they should not be forgotten, You said, adding that he and his colleagues had spent months collecting materials and reviewing old footage to identify all of the signatories.
Participants at the event can help verify some of the names, You said.
Once completed, the list would become part of the DPP’s archives documenting the history of Taiwan’s democratic development, he added.
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