Senior Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members gathered in Taipei yesterday to launch a book on the party’s early history.
The launch of photographer Chiu Wan-hsing’s (邱萬興) Taiwan’s Defiant Years: The Rise of the DPP 1986-1987 (台灣關鍵年代 : 民進黨的誕生 1986-1987) was part of a series of activities to mark the 35th anniversary of the party’s founding on Sept. 28, 1986, at the Grand Hotel Taipei.
“We must never forget the DPP’s original spirit and the party’s founding principles. Taiwanese have much expectation for the DPP, and we must remember this responsibility,” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who is the DPP’s chairperson, said in her keynote address.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
Chiu has for years been associated with the DPP, donating many photographs, early DPP publications and election pamphlets to the party for the establishment of a museum celebrating the the DPP’s history.
Several DPP founding members attended the event, including Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃), former Taipei county commissioner You Ching (尤清) and former DPP chairman Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文).
Those who were present at the DPP’s founding event recalled the tense atmosphere as many feared that then-president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), who was also the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman at the time, might order security forces to crack down on the newly founded party.
There were rumors that opposition leaders would be arrested, they said.
You Ching said that he made calls to foreign news organizations upon arriving home from the event.
It was urgent to announce the party’s founding to the world, he said, adding that it was crucial that foreign media reported the event.
In the party’s early days, DPP members lobbied foreign governments to support Taiwan’s push for democracy and recognize the atrocities committed by the KMT during the waning Martial Law era, he said.
The events led to then-Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham’s trip to Taiwan to interview Chiang on Oct. 6, 1986.
Chiang told Graham that the government would lift martial law and introduce reforms and policies to liberalize Taiwan, You Ching said.
In the interview, Chiang also said that any newly formed party would need to adhere to the Republic of China Constitution and contribute to countering the agenda of communist China, You Ching said.
The interview assured DPP members that “Chiang had come to accept the DPP’s existence,” he said.
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