Former gov’t official to give free speech prize


A former government information officer has established a prize worth US$30,000 annually for individuals whose actions promote freedom of speech.

Chang Chao-ying, 74, said he and his family set up the “Freedom of Speech Prize” in order to improve Taiwanese people’s understanding of this democratic value.

Chang, now living in New York, said the prize money, and an equivalent amount for administration expenditures, have been donated by his American son-in-law Brian Scanlan, a computer software businessman.

The Washington-based, Taiwanese group Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) is cooperating in selecting the prize winner and organizing the awards ceremony, which will be held in Taipei Mar. 4. at FAPA’s 25th anniversary event. Scanlan will present to award the prize as Chang, who is receiving chemotherapy for cancer, will not be able to attend.

Chang was an information officer for Taiwan’s government in New York between 1967 and 1980, in Tokyo from 1980-1985, and again from 1994-1998. Among his legendary achievements was his acquiring of intelligence shortly before the Carter Administration of the United State announced that it would cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan in December 1978.

Brought up in a millionaire family in Taipei at the turn of Japanese colonization and Kuomintang rule, Chang benefited from broad international experiences that his contemporaries rarely enjoyed, which were featured in his 2006 prize-winning and best-selling dictated autobiography “90-banchi, Miyamae-cho”.

Chang said his concerns for Taiwan go beyond party lines. “Taiwanese people have the right to decide their own future, “ he said, “while people may be different in their preference for unification or independence, everybody’s freedom of speech should be respected.”