Taiwan’s Talented Friends and Advocates

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Tuesday July 14, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

In today’s world, a nation is as strong as the talented and dedicated people it has within it and the freedom of speech that it gives them. During the Ma and Tsai years, I realized that in Taiwan, I had such a group of acquaintances, friends and associates, as well as the freedom to openly discuss Taiwan-related issues. Believing in synergy and serendipity, I also felt that we all could benefit from these discussions.

In that spirit, I organized such meetings and since we usually met over breakfast, in a spirit of self-deprecating jest, I named the group, “The Breakfast Club” borrowing from the 1985 film with the same name.

The topics and speakers listed below are witness to that rich, diverse talent so found in Taiwan, as well as the freedom we had for such a variety of topics. The presentations made could easily have formed the basis for a series of university courses.

Taiwan Breakfast Club: Speakers & Topics

“Writing a Novel on Taiwan”
Syd Goldsmith-- Author of Jade Phoenix, and Two Musicians and the Wife Who Isn’t; Long-time Resident of Taiwan, Former Director of AIT Kaohsiung.

“Taiwanese Gangs and Temple Worship Affiliation” Dr. Avron Boertz, Professor, University of Texas at Austin, researcher in Anthropology on Taiwan.

“The Taiwan Police’s Changing Role as the Country Went from Martial Law to Civil Rule” Dr. Jeffrey Martin, Professor, researcher in political science on Taiwan.

“The Application of Land Economics in Taiwan”
Dr. Xiao-lan Liu, Professor of Land Economics, National Chengchi University

“Defense Issues in Taiwan”
Wendell Minnick, Asia Bureau Chief of Defense News, formerly of Jane’s Magazine.

“The Changing Role of Radio in Taiwan”
Rick Monday & Bill Thiessen, long-time newscasters and DJs of ICRT, Taiwan.

“USA Student Programs in Taiwan Studies”
Don Rodgers Ph.D. Austin College, Texas, Director of Taiwan Studies.

“The Military-Industrial Complex and Taiwan”
Mark Stokes, Raytheon; former Pentagon Consultant on Taiwan.

“All the Khans Horses and All the Khan’s Men”Dr. David Curtis Wright, Historian, University of Calgary, focuses on the Yuan Dynasty’s conquering of China. Plus a later presentation on how--now that he is a tenured professor--he is going back to his first love Taiwan Studies.

“Martial Arts in Taiwan, Classical Styles vs. Free-flowing Adaptations”
Brian Kennedy, Lawyer & Scott Summers, Professor.  Long-time residents and practitioners of Martial Arts in Taiwan

“WWII Prisoner of War Camps in Taiwan”
Mike Hurst, President Taiwan POW War Camps Memorial Society tells of the locations and life and suffering of the residents of the camps.

“The Blues (in General and) in Taiwan”
Douglas Rapier, Head of the Blues Society of Taiwan & Bo Po Mo Fo Band.

“What AIT Can Do for You in Taiwan”
Franc X. Shelton, Consular Officer, American Institute in Taiwan.

“The Epic-spanning Life of Contemporary Taiwan Revolutionary, Su Beng”
Felicia Lin, Independent Writer working on a documentary and biography of Su Beng a Taiwan revolutionary who fought the Japanese, the Communists and the KMT.

“Taipei, Shanghai, the Global City and Cross-Strait Relations”
T. K. Leng Ph.D., National Chengchi University, findings of his on-going research.

“Tibet and its Struggles with China”
Kheedroob Thondup, nephew of the Dalai Lama and Member of Tibet’s Govt. in Exile, expresses Tibet’s issues and problems with China.

“Taiwan, the USA, and China”
Steve Yates, former assistant to VP Cheney, former Heritage Foundation member, speaks on Cross Straits Exchange Conference and his experience in the White House.

“Radio Taiwan International its History and Future Goals”
Natalie Tso, Programmer and Reporter on the odyssey of RTI (once Radio Free China) and its future direction as it changes to meet the needs of the times.

“Lobbying for Taiwan Inside the Washington D.C. Beltway”
Gerrit Van der Wees of the Formosan Association of Public Affairs (FAPA), editor of Taiwan Communiqué and a staunch supporter of Taiwan’s Democracy for 30 years.

“Advocating for Taiwan’s Participation in WHO and Other World Agencies”
Dr. Lily Wang, CEO Australian Taiwanese ‘WHO for Taiwan’ Action Association

“Perspectives on Taiwan Having Never Been a Part of China and Similarities in Taiwan’s Oppressive Colonial Japanese and KMT Rule”Dr. Bruce Jacobs, Professor of Monash University, Australia, researcher in Taiwan for over 40 years

“A Borrowed Voice” Linda Gail Arrigo Ph.D., activist and participant in the Kaohsiung Incident who was subsequently kicked out of the country and black-listed, relates the content of her new book on Human Rights Struggles in Taiwan from 1960s to 1980.

“Taiwan’s Strawberry Generation, Their Past and Present”
Dr. Lily Lin, a licensed psychologist, with ten years practice in California who now teaches and works at National Taipei Medical University speaks on the background and challenges of this generation.

“Taiwan, Past, Present, and Future” John J. Tkacik Jr. Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center, Heritage Foundation, presented research and past experiences in the diplomatic corps along with possible scenarios of Taiwan in its present, precarious circumstances.

“Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior (MOI) and What it Can Do for You.”
Jeremy J. H. Shen, Director of the Information Center of the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) addressed issues of concern for Taiwanese and ex-patriates in Taiwan and provided contacts that people could go to for additional answers.

“Taiwan’s Media from the Inside”
Tzen-ping Su, a journalist since 1987 (when Martial Law was lifted) tells of all he has seen and been part of in working for the Independent Evening News, the Government Information Office (GIO) and as Director of China News Agency for the last six years.

“Three Generations of Different Taiwanese Involvement” Michael Fonte involved in Taiwan from the 1970s on is currently a lobbyist in Washington DC; Enoch Chang, a young Harvard lawyer is now an official of the Formosa Foundation in Los Angeles, and two current students and members of The Wild Strawberry Movement relate the differing experiences of cross-generational involvement in Taiwan issues.

“The Lion/Wind Gods of Kinmen as seen in the Historical Context of Global Monolithic Sculpture” & “Cultural Differences between Taiwan and China as seen in Popular Religion” Emily Murray (wind gods) and Fabian Graham (popular religion) relate the focus of their masters theses from National Chengchi University and Cambridge University.

“The Rise and Fall of Britain’s Hong Mao Cheng Taiwan Consulate”
Michael Rand Hoare Ph.D. relates the British Consulate’s reporting, intrigue, and competitive struggle for survival from 2/28/1947 until its closing in 1972.

“Taiwanese Identity: Collective Memories and Symbolism”
Sebo Koh, Taiwan Tribune Publisher (US paper), former head of World United for Formosan Independence (WUFI) & Formosan Association of Public Affairs (FAPA)

“George W. MacKay, a Missionary Ahead of His Time and All for Taiwan”Michael Stainton, York University Research Specialist presents the unsung exploits of George W. MacKay M.D. one of Canada’s gifts to Taiwan.

“Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, Its Origins and Travails”
May-sing Yang, Deputy Executive Director recounts her experience in Taiwan’s democratic development and the foundation. With the new Ma administration, her job and many of the goals of the foundation appear to be in jeopardy.

“Remaking Global Order: the Evolution of Europe-China Relations and its Implication or East Asia and the United States” Nicola Casarini Ph.D. Research Fellow, European University Institute in Florence on his new book.

“The DPP Perspective on Taiwan-China Relations”
Dr. Joseph Wu, former Taiwan Representative in Washington D.C./USA, and current research fellow at the Institute of International Relations, National Chengchi University.

“Perspectives on Taiwanese Identity”
Dr. Mark Harrison, University of Tasmania. Epistemological questions on how Taiwan is known and made known, and how this influences the lives of people here.

“A European Perspective on Taiwan” Dr. Michael Danielson, Director of Taiwan Corner, Copenhagen, Denmark: The formation and purpose of the Taiwan Corner to promulgate and support Taiwan’s democratic status in Europe.

“Collecting Chinese Antiques in Taiwan”
James Spenser hails from a family with 4 generations in Chinese art and antiques in Christie’s Auction House; he opened their Hong Kong Office and is now current curator at the Chang Foundation.

“Romania, Its Experience under Communism and Beyond”
Pavel Suian Ph.D., Pavel was former advisor for foreign policy under Nicolae Ceausescu and later Deputy Minister of Environment. His life traces the Romania from WWII to the present.

“The WHO and WHA: What they Do, What They Are and Their Importance for Taiwan.” Dr. Ferdinand Siem Tjam, a twenty-year member of WHO gives an informal look at what WHO & WHA are and do.

“The Making of the Film, Formosa Betrayed,”
Will Tiao, Producer of and Actor in the film Formosa Betrayed, recounts all that went into making the film and its intended message.

“Japanese Taiwan through British Eyes, 1895—1945,” Dr. Michael Hoare, recounts the changing, but often blind attitudes towards Japanese rule expressed via local British diplomats and London as the UK moves from total support to eventual war.

 “Post Election Assessment and Strategies”
Presenting their views on the results of Taiwan’s Five Major Cities Elections (2010) will be the Presidents of the World United Formosans for Independence, (WUFI), the Formosan Association of Public Affairs (FAPA) and the World Federation of Taiwanese Associations (WFTA).

“Mao’s Great Famine”
Dr. Frank Dikotter presents a synopsis of his new well-researched book, a scathing condemnation of the death and destruction Mao brought on China as he believed he could turn it into a great industrial power by simply mobilizing the masses.

“Becoming Taiwan: From Colonialism to Democracy,”
Dr. Ann Heylen and Scott Sommers discuss the recent book (compilation of research essays on Taiwan) that they edited. Includes both content and the ins and outs of editing and meeting deadlines.

“Taiwan and Nuclear Power: the Implications of Japan’s Recent Earthquake/tsunami Experience for Taiwan.”
Gloria Kuang-jung Hsu Ph.D. Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Taiwan University, Consultant on nuclear power plants and Vice Chair of Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Union.

“My Vision for Taiwan, and the Differences between the DPP and the KMT”
Dr. Tsai Ing-wen, Chairperson for the DPP and current DPP candidate for the Presidency in 2012 explains her party’s perspective on Taiwan.

“Taiwan’s Need for Judicial and Prosecutorial Reform and the Judge Act”
Feng-Jeng Lin, Lawyer and Executive Director of the Judicial Reform Foundation addresses the problems of judicial and legal reform in Taiwan when Transitional Justice has not been achieved.

“Public Diplomacy for Taiwan through Health, NGOs and other Agencies”
Dr. Peter Chang, President of Taiwan Radiation Protection Association, past EU Health NCP Taiwan coordinator, (Geneva, WHO)

“Why Are Those Korean Soap Operas So Popular?”
Dr. Ming-yeh Rawnsley Ph.D. Communications, University of Leeds analyzes the many factors that have contributed to their popularity.

“The Untold Reasons Behind Richard Nixon’s Historic Visit to China”
Dr. Steven Phillips, History Dept. Towson University. How re-election factored into many aspects of Richard Nixon’s historic trip.

“Taiwan’s Betel-nut Industry, a Perspective on Betel-nut Girls, Marketing and More.” Tobie Openshaw, photographer and documentary film maker who has done work for National Geographic, Discovery Channel etc.

“The DPP’s Perspective on International Affairs and Taiwan’s Relations with the World.” Liu Shih-chung, Director of International Affairs for the DPP

“The Zane Dean Case and the Need for Juries in Taiwan’s Courts and Trials.”  Billie Chen, defense lawyer; advocate for developing a Jury System in Taiwan.

“What Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan (LY) Does: Everything You Wanted to Know but were Afraid to Ask,” Bi-Khim Hsiao, a three time DPP legislator explains the LY’s purpose as well as its ins and outs.

“Taiwan’s Attempted Construction of an A-bomb and its Aftermath in Nuclear Power” Dr. David Ho, Professor, Yilan Charter, Chen Foundation

“ECFA, its FTAs and their Implications for Taiwan” TSU Legislator-at-Large, Hsu Chung Hsin, Taiwan Legislative Yuan evaluates ECFA and FTAs from an economic standpoint.

“How Fear and Loathing is Fertilizing Growing American Grassroots Support for Taiwan” Brock Freeman, founder of American Citizens for Taiwan (ACT).

“What Should the USA Know about Taiwan?” Four US Congressional aides are in Taiwan to gather information on its status, its democracy, and US/Taiwan relationships. They ask members what the US Congress needs to know in these matters.

"White Terror, Dark Prison 白恐黑牢" David Curtis Wright Ph.D. research on KMT killings and imprisonments during the White Terror period with focus on four particular cases.

“Ex-pats and the Entertainment Industry in Taiwan, esp. Drama and Music” Brandon Thompson, member of Adoga Band and Taipei Players Assoc. What it is like to be in entertainment in Taiwan.

“Revolutionary Gardening for Future Ages” Tammy Turner, authority on permaculture, gardens etc. What you need to know about gardening and plants for the future of earth.

”The Film Formosa Betrayed, and What I Learned from It”
Producer of the film and actor in it, Will Tiao revisits the aftermath of his film including the good, the bad, and the ugly of that all went into it.

Evergreen Maritime Museum” A Guided Tour of one of the “Best Kept Secrets” of Taiwan; the Evergreen Museum (5 floors) has what you need to know about Taiwan as an Island Nation linked inevitably to the sea.

“The Growing Existential Threat of Nuclear Weapons”Dr. Edward A. Friedman, Professor Emeritus of Technology Management at Stevens Institute of Technology and advocate of Thorium based nuclear power.

“China’s Faltering Economy, Historic Leadership Transition and New Strategic Arc” Gordon C. Chang, lawyer and author of TheComing Collapse of China. Why this is not going to be China’s century.

“Amnesty International, What it has Done for Taiwan in the Past, and How Taiwan canNow Help it in the Future” Bo Tedards, Director of Amnesty Taiwan, and long time democracy advocate on Taiwan.

“Debunking the Myth of the Taiwan Miracle, Who and What Really Made it Happen,” Frank Hsiao Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado and author.

“The Taiwan, USA, and China Eternal (sort of) Triangle in light of China’s Recent Slowdown” Don Shapiro, Senior Advisor Am Cham, Bill Stanton, former AIT Director, and TSU Legislator Anna Chou. Issues and challenges for Taiwan.

“Three Minority Candidates Running for the Legislative Yuan Speak to the Issue of Why Taiwan Needs Minority Party Representation there.”  Victoria Hsu, Aquia Tsay, and Shaina Wang--Green/Social Democrat Alliance and Free Taiwan Parties.

“The Role & Importance of Having Taiwan Represented in ASEAN” Bernard Villegas Ph.D. Economics, Center for Research and Communication, Univ. of Asia & Pacific. 

“Taiwan’s Comparative Status in the World’s Economy” Frank Hsiao Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado and author.

“A Peek Behind the Bamboo Curtain—Traveling in present day Tibet” Bill Sharp, Asia in Review (Hawaii) and current researcher at Academia Sinica.

“Reforming Taiwan’s Military” Dean Karelekas Ph.D. Speaks on the topic of his dissertation research into Taiwan’s military and future development.

“Out of Taiwan—Taiwan’s Indigenous People and Their link to Austronesia” Dr. David Blundell, National Chengchi Univ. and “Taiwan’s Indigenous Reclaiming Their Land.” DPP Legislator Kolas Yatoka.

“Bu San, Bu Si” a novel on what goes on the darker side of the Taiwan music industry with those into heavy metal and protest. Joe Henley, musician, journalist and author.

“Organ Transplants and Nuclear Testing in Xinjiang” Enver Tohti Bughda, a Uighur surgeon in exile speaks from personal experience on what has been going on in Xinjiang in the past 4 decades.

Each of the above speakers provided unique insights and perspectives both on Taiwan and on his/her life. Though the membership list of this “club” at times exceeded 500 people, with busy schedules and commitments, few made every meeting; likewise many who left the island wished to remain on the list simply to keep abreast of matters here in case they returned.

Taiwan has come a long way in the past three decades since martial law was lifted. It not only has achieved democracy, but it continues to gain focus on all that that means. This list appears as the Postscript in my recent book, Taiwan, the Struggle Gains Focus.