Key players gather to commemorate 1979 Kaohsiung Incident

Taipei-Key players in the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident gathered on the eve of the United Nations-designated Human Rights Day, with one of the key figures urging the public to vote for the right leader in next year's presidential election.

Taiwan would not have the democracy it enjoys today without the Kaohsiung Incident of four decades ago, Hsu Hsin-liang (???), a former chairman of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said Monday at a DPP-sponsored event to commemorate the incident.

The DPP was founded in 1986 and most of its leaders in the early stages had some connection to the Kaohsiung Incident.

Hsu said he was commemorating the 40th anniversary of the incident with a heavy heart, due to the tribulations Taiwan is facing as the 2020 presidential election approaches.

"If the Taiwanese people fail to choose a president who is not influenced by outside forces, then the Kaohsiung Incident will have become an absurdity rather than a glorious part of our history," he warned, adding that Taiwan's struggle for democracy over the past 40 years will turn into nothing more than painful memories.

The Kaohsiung Incident refers to a crackdown on Formosa Magazine, of which Hsu was president. It was a publication founded in August 1979 that was critical of the martial law regime headed by the late President Chiang Ching-kuo (???) of the Kuomintang (KMT).

On Dec. 10 of that same year, the KMT government dispersed a pro-democracy demonstration staged by activists who included the staff of Formosa Magazine, calling for the removal of a ban on political parties and the lifting of martial law.

Three days later, the government launched a nationwide manhunt for the leaders of the demonstration. The incidents were collectively known as the Kaohsiung Incident, which is viewed by many today as a watershed moment on Taiwan's road to democracy.

The British-educated Hsu, now aged 78, was out of the country when the Kaohsiung Incident erupted. He slipped back into Taiwan in 1989 and was jailed for sedition. He became the DPP chairman soon after then-President Lee Teng-hui (???) pardoned him in 1990.

Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (??), Senior Advisor to the President Yao Chia-wen (???), who were both jailed for their involvement in Formosa Magazine, as well as former Taipei Magistrate You Ching (??) and Lee Sheng-hsiung (???), both of whom were defense attorneys at the time, as well as various others, also attended the event.

One of the most prominent defense lawyers for Formosa Magazine was former President Chen Shui-bian (???), who did not attend the event as he is more active in another political party, the Taiwan Action Party Alliance, and is currently on medical parole from a prison sentence handed down in 2010.

Chen Chu recalled how she and Annette Lu (???), an editor of Formosa Magazine who was elected as the country's vice president in 2000, were hunted down by government forces, and she thanked the lawyers who stood up to defend them in those difficult years.

The Kaohsiung Incident was only the beginning of Taiwan's quest for democracy, Chen Chu went on. She urged her countrymen to work harder, as the country still faces tough challenges ahead.

Former Premier Lai Ching-te (???), the DPP's official bet for the vice presidential post in the Jan. 11 election, reminded the public to express gratitude to those who fought for Taiwan's democracy and to unite to protect the hard-earned democracy in times of China's growing suppression.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel