Taiwan's Freedom Fighter, Linda Arrigo Turns the Big 6-0!

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Saturday January 17, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Linda Arrigo, a name well known in Taiwan since the days of the Kaohsiung Incident (when she was unceremoniously kicked out of the country) cheerfully celebrated her sixtieth birthday here yesterday. With her were a diverse group of well-wishing friends, whom we could dubiously call some of the usual suspects in Taiwan's pro-democracy and pro-environmental circles. They included members of the Green Party, prominent bloggers, and even a classmate from Taipei American School high school days who had come up from Pingtung.

It was a jovial but simple affair at a Thai restaurant on HePing East Rd and though we had three tables of participants; when we tried to roast Linda, few could come up with even the slightest of innuendos appropriate for a good roasting. At the end we concluded we should have invited some of her enemies and past combatants like the now has-been politician (then head of the Government Information Office) James Soong and many others of the ilk that made up the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT's) one-party, martial law state of the 1980s.

Linda will go down in history as one of the staunch proponents of Taiwan's democracy; she is one that walked the walk long before she began to talk the talk. Unlike some she never wavered, and unlike others she never profited from her involvement. And unlike others like Taiwan's current president Ma Ying-jeou (then a KMT student spy) she didn't jump on the democracy bandwagon when it became fashionable and politically advantageous. She walked the walk consistently and continues to do so at the risk of being a gad-fly to those who may slacken in their pace.

Linda's participation in those years can be found in the book she co-authored with Lynn Miles another staunch proponent of Taiwan who also attended. That book "A Borrowed Voice" was briefly reviewed here on July 6, 2008. Photos of the event will no doubt appear on a few blogs; for me, I was happy to be the Master of Ceremonies for the roast and wishing Linda many more years.