Shih Ming-teh

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Shih.
Shih Ming-teh
施明德
Shih Ming-de 2006 Depose Abian.jpg
5th Chairperson of the DPP
In office
July 18, 1994 – March 23, 1996
Preceded by Hsu Hsin-liang
Succeeded by Hsu Hsin-liang
Personal details
Born (1941-01-15) January 15, 1941 (age 73)
Takao, Taiwan, Empire of Japan
Nationality  Republic of China (Taiwan)
Political party Green Taiwan in White Cross.svg Democratic Progressive Party(1986-2000)
Independent(2000-present)
Occupation Politician

Shih Ming-te (or Shih Ming-teh; Chinese: 施明德; pinyin: Shī Míngdé; Wade–Giles: Shih1 Ming2-te2; a.k.a. Nori; born January 15, 1941 in Kaohsiung) was a political prisoner for 25-and-a-half years in Taiwan.

He was arrested at the age of 21 in 1962 and charged with creating the "Taiwan Independence League" (a study group) with the intention of overthrowing the Kuomintang government, Shih was sentenced to life imprisonment. The sentence was commuted to 15 years in 1975, and Shih was released on June 16, 1977.

He promptly joined the Tangwai (literally meaning "outside the party", because the Kuomintang was the only legally existing political party in Taiwan at that time), became a reporter for the Liberty Times and married the American researcher Linda Gail Arrigo. After playing a part in organizing the December 10, 1979 pro-democracy rally subsequently known as the Kaohsiung Incident, (also known as the Formosa Incident or Meilitao Incident), an arrest warrant was issued charging Shih with treason, and following 26 days on the run he was again arrested and sentenced to life in prison. In 1984, while he was incarcerated, Polish politician and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Wałęsa nominated him for Peace Prize.

On July 1987, Chiang Ching-kuo lifted martial law and offered an amnesty to Shih, but he refused to accept. On May 20, 1990 he was finally released. In total, he spent 25 years in prison, 13 years in solitary confinement and over 4 years on hunger strike.[citation needed]

In 1994, he was elected leader of the legalized opposition Democratic Progressive Party. He was also elected legislator in three occasions. Shih's proposal of a political "Grand Reconciliation" in Taiwan earned him strong rejection from within the Democratic Progressive Party, to which he resigned on November 14, 2000.

In 2006, Shih carried out a massive protest, known as Million Voices Against Corruption, President Chen Must Go, in an effort to force the embattled president Chen Shui-bian to resign. He led an around the clock sit-in in front of the Presidential Building and Taipei Railway Station in Taipei City, pledging to remain there until such time as President Chen resigned, or the reached the end of his term in March 2008. On December 5, 2006, he left Taipei Railway Station pledging to continue the protest alone in "self-reclusion" at an apartment nearby. As of April 2007, this protest has ended.

Shih was one of the most prominent personalities of the Tangwai movement and greatly contributed to Taiwan's democratization. He had been referred to by some as "Taiwan's Mandela".

Life[edit]

Early years[edit]

Shih Ming-te's father Shih Kuo-tsui was a well-known practitioner of Chinese medicine.

In February 1947, Shih Ming-te witnessed at Kaohsiung Train Station that would later be known as the 228 Incident. The student leaders of schools were charged as instigators and some were executed as riots broke out. Students seized weapons from Harbor Garrison and exchanged fires with the guards.

He entered Kaohsiung's Chung-Cheng Senior High in 1957. In 1959, after failed to pass college entrance exam, he signed up with ROC Army, passing the admission exams for the artillery school. On occasion he vowed in public to overthrow the ROC government by force(tabooed then), through an armed coup d'état as an army officer. The same year his girlfriend gave birth to a daughter when he was 19.[1]

He briefly served as an artillery officer in Kingmen.

First imprisonment: 1962-1977[edit]

In 1962 he was arrested for alleged involvement in the "Formosa Independence Movement", over 30 more "accomplices", mostly army school and university students, were also arrested. Shih's two brothers, poet and painter Shih Ming-cheng and medical school student Shih Ming-hsiung were among them.

In 1964 Shih Ming-te is sentenced to life imprisonment for orchestrating the independence movement, he was also stripped-off his civil rights for life. Shih was roughened up and suffered loss of his teeth and his back spine was damaged at age of 22.

The Kuomintang regime considered outspoken Shih as highly "dangerous" political criminal and therefore prevented him from doing any forced labor that would put him in contact with the world outside prison. This gave him enough time to do research and study. Shih focused on philosophy, history, international law, linguistics and Japanese. He also developed a strong and resolute personality in prison.

In the 1970s, Taiwan government suffered several blows to its international status: first, its seat at the United Nations was taken over by the People's Republic of China, then the United States established official ties with Beijing, severing those with Taipei. A rebellion in the Taiyuan prison, where many of the inmates were political prisoners, was planned. Access to the Taitung radio station and a publicly broadcast a declaration of Taiwan's independence from China was one of their goals. Many all pro-independence prisoners took part in the plot. On February 8, 1970 five prisoners murdered a guard and tried to take his gun. Ultimately the five inmates broke from prison, only to be caught promptly. The breakout plot was foiled.

The Kuomintang believed Shih was one of the masterminds of the uprising, therefore kept him in isolation during his time in Taiyuan. To this date, the investigation documents are still kept confidential and the implication of Shih is disputed by Shih himself, who sued Lin Shu-chi for defamation.

In 1974, after 12 years of imprisonment, Shih's first wife Chen Li-chu asked for divorce: she had an affair with one of Shih's friends, who was released before Shih. In 1975, president Chiang Kai-shek died; Chiang Ching-kuo succeeded as KMT Chairman, then a leniency policy is implmented. On June 16, 1977, Shih is released after only 15 years in prison serving a life sentence.

Meilitao (Kaohsiung, Formosa) Incident[edit]

During Chiang Ching-kuo's years, the threat of internal opposition voice was considered more taboo. It was similar to Today's Communist Chinese government policy to oppose speaking out. The two obscure political parties in Taiwan which had no voice. After Chiang Ching-Kuo narrowly missed the assassination from the Independence in New York. The Nationalists were sensitive to the threats. Shih Ming-te, created a "party without a name" amidst the absence of freedom of association in Taiwan at that time. On September 1978 Shih becomes the convener of the Tangwai or non-Kuomintang candidates. On May 1979 this group of non-Kuomintang activists established the Meilitao Magazine, Shih was named general manager. On December 10, 1979, this Tangwai group commemorates Human Rights Day in Kaohsiung. The rally operated without prior approval with specific stipulation that no torches and weapons were allowed. It was intervened by police which clashed with the protestors resulted in damages. The event will be known as the Meilitao Incident, a milestone in Taiwan's democratization process.[2]

Three days later, Shih dramatically escapes: Chang Wen-ying (then a dentist and later Mayor of Taichung City) performs plastic surgery on Shih to change his looks so he can escape to overseas. Shih was still later caught along with the dentist sentenced to life in prison for the second time.

During the 1980 Meilitao Incident trials Shih is defiant and proud facing a potentially fatal Court Martial decision. He declares during his defense: "Taiwan should be independent, in fact, it already is, it has been for 30 years and currently it is known as Republic of China". Shih also demands an end to the political monopoly by the Kuomintang, the press control in Taiwan and the martial law, so that the 30-plus-year rubber stamped legislative session can be dissolved.

Second imprisonment and hunger strike: 1980-1990[edit]

In 1983, one of the allies of Shih, Professor Chen Wen-cheng is murdered;[3] Shih Ming-te begins a 1-month hunger strike to protest what he believed to be an assassination ordered by the secret police.

In 1984, Polish union leader Lech Wałęsa (Nobel Peace 1983) nominates Shih Ming-te for the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1985, Shih commences an indefinite hunger strike. His demands: an end to martial law and state-sponsored political murders, implementation of a democratic system and release of all Meilitao Incident political prisoners. Shih is sent to the Tri-Service General Hospital and underwent force-feeding through a nasogastric tube during his four and half years of protest.

On July 15, 1987, a 38-year-long Martial Law was ended by the KMT government. President Chiang Ching-kuo announced nationwide sentence reductions and conditional releases. Shih declined the offer.

In 1988, Shih Ming-te went on another hunger strike protest with his brother Shih Ming-cheng. His brother died from mal-nutrition. Shih survived.

Release[edit]

On May 20, 1990, the new president Lee Teng-hui officially assumes the presidency and orders a special amnesty for all Meilitao Incident prisoners. Shih rips up his amnesty document and demands an unconditional release. When President Lee announces the invalidation of the Meilitao Trials, Shih Ming-te finally accepts his release as an innocent person. Upon recovering his freedom, he joins the now legal Democratic Progressive Party, which originated in the Tangwai movement.

Political career[edit]

In 1992, Shih is elected legislator for the Tainan County constituency in Legislative Yuan. This election was the first free direct legislative elections in Taiwan history.

Between 1994 and 1996 Shih is elected president of the Democratic Progressive Party,[4] during his tenure, he claimed that "Taiwan is already an independent and sovereign nation, when the Democratic Progressive Party is in power, there is no need and it will not announce Taiwan's independence". At the same time Shih proposed a political and social Grand Reconciliation. Elected legislator for a new term in 1996, he ran for the presidency of the Legislative Yuan, gaining a vote from former archrival New Party but losing one from the Democratic Progressive Party. Liu Song-fan was elected President of the Legislative Yuan.

On 23 March 1996, Taiwan's first direct presidential election is held. The Democratic Progressive Party's candidate is defeated by incumbent president Lee Teng-hui, with only got 21.1% of low vote(The DPP got around 30% in before regional elections). Shih Ming-te resigns to his position as party chief, Chang Chun-hsiung assumes as acting leader of the opposition party. Shih shifts his attention to the completion of the "Meilitao Oral History Records".

Shih (left front) in 1992

On April 1, 1997, Shih is indicted for a violation to the Mass Gathering and Demonstration Act. He had organized in 1992 a protest demanding direct presidential elections. Huang Hsin-chie, Hsu Hsin-liang and Lin Yi-hsiung go to prison with Shih for 50 days. This is the third time Shih is imprisoned, but now as a legislator. He is released after 41 days.

In 1998, Shih is re-elected legislator but this time representing a Taipei City constituency. He will continue his efforts for the completion of the "Meilitao Oral History Records". In three years, 200 individuals of the political spectrum. The oral testimonies amount to over 6 million words, and are edited to a 600,000 word four volume version. To date, this is the most comprehensive historical research of the 1970–1990 era in Taiwan's development, earning it a publishing prize. This was the result of Shih's individual efforts, using his own financial and personal resources. Neither the Democratic Progressive Party nor the government of Taiwan have helped complete this overwhelming historic research project.

In 2000, Chen Shui-bian, the former Mayor of Taipei City, is elected president. Shih congratulates the leader of the Democratic Progressive Party Lin Yi-hsiung for the triumph. He said in an interview that since his childhood dream of ousting the Chiang's KMT regime had been accomplished, he would leave the political party. In May, Chen before he assumed the presidency, visited Shih's office to personally ask him if he was willing to be appointed senior political advisor. Shih rejected Chen's offer once more, but instead proposed Hsu Hsin-liang for the position.

Shih condemned President Chen for leading the country with a minority government, ignoring the KMT majority in the Legislative Yuan and risking political stability. After Chen rejected his suggestion for an alliance with the opposition majority in the Legislative Yuan, Shih further walked away from the party. Believing that Taiwan's greatest challenge in the 21st century was globalization, together with former colleagues Hsu Hsin-liang and Sisy Chen, famous Wen Shih-ren and a dozen others intellectuals and entrepreneurs, founded the "Shan (Mountain) Alliance". Their goal: to draw a road map for Taiwan in the 21st century.

Shih ran as an independent twice, on December 2001 and December 2004. On the first occasion he lost with 24,925 votes, on the second he narrowly lost the race by receiving 26,974 votes in the highly contested Taipei North Constituency. He had proposed a parliamentary political system to overcome the aggravation of political differences in Taiwan's society.

On December 2002, Shih ran as Mayor candidate for Kaohsiung City. His platform: turn the port-city into a free port, much like Hong Kong or Amsterdam, to cope with the challenge of globalization. Direct maritime links with Chinese ports was also part of the proposal. Shih perceived that the political divide was so severe that he decided to announce his withdrawal three days before the election.

On September 2003, Shih Ming-te is visiting scholar at George Mason University for a one-year period. During his tenure, Shih researched what he called the "One China: European Union Model" as a means of ending the impasse between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, and reiterates his proposal for a constitutional amendment in favor of a parliamentary system, in an attempt to put an end to the political polarization into the two camps (blue or Kuomintang-based and green or Democratic Progressive Party-centered) which was deteriorating into ethnic rivalry between Chinese refugees coming to rule Taiwan in 1949, and those who were there before that time.

On October 6, 2005, the Department of Political Science at National Taiwan University opens the "Shih Ming-te Lecture"series; ethnic harmony, political reconciliation and cross-Strait peace are its core values.

On May, 2006, "Shih Ming-te Lecture" invites Mr. Frederik Willem de Klerk, Former State President of South Africa, to a dialog with Shih Ming-te: "Maintaining Peace: South Africa's Experience, a Perspective for Taiwan?" is the topic.

Million Voices Against Corruption, Chen Must Go Campaign[edit]

Chronology[edit]

On August 9, 2006, Shih Ming-te wrote an open letter to President Chen Shui-bian, whose aides, wife and son-in-law are implicated in several corruption cases. Shih urges Chen to resign as a display of strength in times of crisis, respect for public opinion and acknowledgement of wrongdoing.[5] Ironically, Chen Shui-bian had been Shih's defense attorney in the aftermath of the Kaohsiung Incident and had been imprisoned for 18 months himself.

On August 12, 2006, Shih Ming-te gives a keynote speech to kick-start the "Million Voices Against Corruption-Chen Must Go" campaign in the 228 Incident Memorial Park. He argued that the people could not bear with so much corruption anymore. Shih asks all those who support the movement a NT$ 100 (US$ 3, €2.3) donation as a symbol of commitment and consent, as well as a display of determination to ask Chen Shui-bian to leave the Presidential Office. Shih vowed to lead the people in a protest until Chen Shui-bian steps down if the donations came in.[6]

On August 22, 2006, In seven working days, a sum equivalent of that from over 1 million people had been received (the actual number of donators cannot be computed because there was no restriction on the maximum amount of money one could transfer to the designated account). The designated account was quickly closed and the preparations for the marathon protest started.[7]

On September 1, 2006, the anti-corruption campaign organizers start training for the sit-ins (emergency procedures in case of police intervention).[8]

On September 9, 2006, the sit-in begins on a rainy day. According to the Chinapost, over 3 hundred thousand people gathered that day on Ketagalan Avenue, in front of the Presidential Building in Taipei under the pouring rain. The Taipei Police Department claims there were only 1 hundred thousand protestors. According to the organizers' request, most of them were wearing red shirts, no controversial flags or political icons should be displayed, not even the Republic of China flag, perceived as a pro-Kuomintang device. Some protestors still brought along a small Republic of China flag or campaign items with them.[9]

On September 15, 2006, a Democratic Progressive Party Taipei city counselor had booked the Ketagalan Avenue site where the red-clad protestors were still gathered. Shih Ming-te decides to move the protest to Taipei Railway Station. A climax is reached the night of the procession: a large perimeter of over 5.5 kilometers around the heavily guarded Presidential Building and Residence at the heart of Taipei was quickly flooded by peaceful red-clad protestors: the Chinapost reported that over 8 hundred thousand people had joined the candlelight encirclement; the Taipei Police again contradict this with an estimate of 3 hundred thousand.[10]

On September 22, 2006, Shih Ming-te declares that he will not form his own political party nor participate in any political negotiations, he also made it clear that he was not willing to engage in negotiations with former president Lee Teng-hui; instead he will stay with the red-clad anti-Chen protestors.

On November 20, 2006, Shih Ming-te urges Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (the Kuomintang's 2008 presidential hopeful) to resign amidst accusations of corruption. Shih says he was not contemplating anti-corruption protests against Ma, but insists there should not be double standards regarding corruption allegations. Ma was acquitted.

On November 30, 2006, last night of protest by the Million Voices Against Corruption, Chen Must Go Campaign. Shih Ming-te later travels to Thailand for a TV interview and panel discussion.

On December 7, 2006, the Special State Funds case of President Chen and his wife is underway, campaign organizers claim that Taiwan needs to go back to normal, but Shih will protest until Chen steps down. Taipei.[11]

On April 1, 2007, Shih Ming-te announces the end to his self-imprisonment and starts preparations for the second stage of the anti-Chen campaign. Plans involve presenting candidates for the next legislative elections. Originally schedduled for late 2007, the elections will instead be carried out in early 2008.

Controversy[edit]

Shih is often considered a "romantic revolutionary" in Taiwan media. He believes that he is rooted in his ability to "to pursue unlimited aspirations and ideals under restrictive conditions".[1]

The latest editions of Taiwan's High-School textbooks list Shih Ming-te as a political activist.

Shih's former Legislative Yuan secretary, cartoonist and writer Yu-fu thinks Shih "is never quite sure of his own place in history".

Shih is accused by his ex-wife Chen, Li Zhu, in her book, "The Innocent Song of a Taiwanese Woman," of using her as a sex toy, and failing his responsibility as a husband. Chen also claimed Shih been indifferent to his responsibility toward their daughter.[12] Shih Ming-te often says: "I have been locked up for 25 years, where were you then?"[citation needed].

Another former secretary of Shih, Kuo Wen-pin, wrote about his opinion of Shih on Taiwan Daily (October 15, 2000): Taking a look at 40 years of his struggle for Taiwan's democracy, he reveals himself as a visionary; he made several pioneering proposals ahead of his time.

20 years ago Shih already said the four evils of Taiwan's path towards democracy were the political monopoly by the Kuomintang, the press control in Taiwan, the martial law and the "ten thousand year" legislative session (萬年國會). Risking death penalty, Shih advocated for a "Republic of China, Taiwanese Independence Model", and added that "Taiwan is already an independent country, it has been so for over 30 years". For his opinions, Shih was considered seditious and the media, organizations, academia, everyone attacked him and humiliated him, only for the Democratic Progressive Party to adopt and implement his ideas; they even led the way to Lee Teng-hui's "Silent Revolution" political compromises. When the Kuomintang's 50 years in power ended, the Chen Shui-bian administration accepted some of his teachings.

Arrests and repression are no longer the defensive measures of the regime when facing harsh criticism, but the abuse of public power, media by individuals to insult, humiliate, and swear at others is still common practice. DDP party has vowed to improve its image with more diplomatic means has yet remain to be seen.

In the aftermath of Shih's "red-shirt" movement, he became a darling of PRC controlled media, including CCTV,Phoenix TV, and People's Daily.[13] Shih's efforts in discrediting the DPP are widely praised and reported by various media outlets controlled or owned by the Chinese Government.[14]

On November 20, 2006, ifeng.com, web portal of pro-CCP television channel Phoenix TV, reported Shih planned a trip to Thailand to discuss his "red shirt" philosophy. In the same article, Shih also rebutted claims by representative of the American Institute in Taiwan that the red shirts instigated violence and caused social upheaval.[15]

On January 16, 2010, chinanews.com.cn, a PRC media outlet, reported the possibility of Shih running for presidency in 2012.

On April 19, 2010, www.chinataiwan.org, a Chinese government sponsored site, reported Shih claimed numerous prominent DDP leaders, including Shui Bian Chen and Chang Ting Hsieh, were undercover agents for the Kuomintang against political dissidents during the 1980s.[16] According to Huaxia.com, yet another pro-CCP website, Shih's accusations have caused a general panic in the DDP.[17] A former supporter and Pastor of the Presbyterian Church, Wang, Jie Nan, wrote an opinion piece highlighting his disappointment with Shih, starting from Shih's "red shirt" movement and his subsequent efforts to undermine the DPP with outlandish accusations.[18]

On April 17, 2011, Shih courted controversy when he asked Tsai Ing-Wen to publicly disclose her sexual orientation before she participated in her presidential bid. Despite his own support for LGBT rights in Taiwan, Shih was roundly criticized by major women's groups including the Awakening Foundation, the Taiwan Women's Link and the Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association. Tsai herself characterized the request as "surprising" and refused to reply.[19]

Works[edit]

•Shih Ming-te, 2006, "qui shi zhi chun (囚室之春, Spring in a Prison Cell)", new edition. Taipei, Linking books.

•Shih Ming-te, 2002, "wu si de feng xian zhe (無私的奉獻者, The Selfless Devotee)". Taipei, Commonwealth Publishing Group.

•New Taiwan Foundation, 2002, "yong yuan de zhu ti: shi mingde yu wei jingsheng dui tan lu (永遠的主題:施明德與 魏京生 對談錄, A timeless theme: dialogs between Shih Ming-te and Wei Jingsheng)", Taipei, Linking books.

•Shih Ming-te, 2001, "yue du shi mingde (閱讀施明德, Readig Shih Ming-te)". Taipei, New Taiwan Foundation.

•Shih Ming-te, 1988, "shih mingde de zheng zhi yi shu: mei li dao shi jian jun fa da shen da bian quan wen (施明德的政治遺囑:美麗島事件軍法大審答辯全, Shih Ming-te's Political Testament: The Formosa Incident Hearings)". Taipei, Avanguard.

•Shih Ming-te, 1989, "qiu shi zhi chun (囚室之春, Spring in a Prison Cell)", Kaohsiung, Tunli Publishing.

•Shih Ming-te, 1992, "qiu shi zhi chun: shi mingde san wen ji (囚室之春:施明德散文集, Spring in a Prison Cell: A Collection of Essays)". Taipei, Avangard.

•New Taiwan Foundation, 1995 "shi mingde guo hui san nian (施明德國會三年,Shih Ming-te's Three-year Term in the Legislative Yuan)". Taipei, New Taiwan Foundation.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Chee Soon Juan, 1998, 《To be Free – stories from Asia's Struggle against Oppression》Australia, Monash Asia Institute Monash University
  • 陳素卿,2004,《監禁環境的人格研究:以監獄文學為例》。南華大學文學研究所碩士論文。
  • 古淑芳,1999,《台灣黨外運動(1977–1986):以黨外言論為中心之研究》。國立台灣師範大學歷史研究所碩士論文。
  • 黃惠君整理,黃惠君、韋本採訪,1999,〈施明德〉,見新台灣文教基金會美麗島事件口述歷史編輯小組編,《走向美麗島:戰後反對意識的萌芽》,頁48–60。台北:時報文化。
  • 馬一龍,1998,〈Shih Ming-teh Turns Paper to Money〉;見馬一龍,《Taiwan Personalities 台灣群英錄:一位外籍記者的訪談》,頁129-32。台北:書林出版有限公司。
  • 施明雄,1998a,《白色恐怖黑暗時代台灣人受難史》。台北:前衛。
  • 施明雄,1998b,《施家三兄弟的故事》。台北:前衛。
  • 徐瑛君,2003,《媒體呈現之候選人形象定位策略研究:以2002年高雄市長選舉為例》。世新大學傳播研究所碩士論文。
  • 張為清編著,1980,《施明德落網記》。台北:大東方。
  • 中央研究院近代史研究所《口述歷史》編輯委員會,2000,《口述歷史》第10期:〈蘇東啟政治案件專輯〉。台北:中央研究院近代史研究所。
Party political offices
Preceded by
Hsu Hsin-liang
Chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party
1994–1996
Succeeded by
Hsu Hsin-liang