Taiwan & Deng Nan-jung's Death: It was not that Long Ago!

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Wednesday August 22, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

It was barely 23 years ago; I was here but I was not paying attention to such things at that time; now I see its importance. Deng Nan-jung committed suicide by self-immolation when in 1989 the police tried to arrest him. His crime? He printed a proposal to have a new constitution--one for the Republic of Taiwan. In hindsight, he was ahead of his time. Taiwan does need a new Constitution; it should not have the 1947 one that the KMT brought with them when they lost the Civil War in China and imposed it on Taiwan.

IN 1989, the Garrison Command (military police) still walked the streets--they would do so until disbanded in 1992; people were still hesitant to speak their minds in public though Martial Law had been lifted in 1987. And free elections of the Legislative Yuan (to come in 1992) and the Presidency (1996) were still a dream.

Today, the lane Deng committed suicide has just been dedicated as "Freedom Lane." Taipei Mayor, Hau Lung-bin was present and said he had the utmost respect for Deng's sacrifice in the pursuit of "100 per cent freedom of expression." For many, the irony there was that Hau's father, Hau Pei-tsun was part of the military establishment that enforced Martial Law and supported the Garrison Command.

How times have changed in Taiwan.

For those wishing to see the marker, it is at Alley 3, Lane 106, Minquan E. Rd. Sec. 3, Taipei.