Spy bill risks return to White Terror era: lawmaker

By Sun Hsin Hsuan, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Actress-turned-legislator Kao Chin Su-Mei (高金素梅) has criticized a new government anti-spying bill, saying it risks drawing Taiwan into another “dark period” similar to the White Terror era.

Kao was speaking at a showing of “Advancing in the Dark,” a short documentary based on the testimonies of nine survivors of the White Terror period. The documentary premiered at the Legislative Yuan on Friday.

Kao, a member of the pan-blue Non-Partisan Solidarity Union, said the recently proposed spying bill, which allows investigators to obtain private documents with confidential information and confiscate any relevant object or detain any relevant person during an emergency event, had left her “devastated.”

“Taiwan has just recovered from the darkest period of its history … there’s no way those who survived that period will allow another dark period to descend,” she said. The documentary was made by an association dedicated to the survivors and families of the victims of the White Terror era. It was made under the supervision of the preparatory office of the National Human Rights Museum. Over 18 months, the association recorded the testimonies of nine survivors, six of whom attended Friday’s press conference. One of the survivors, Lu Tung-hsin (路統信), described how his family and approximately 100 of his neighbors were locked inside a wooden cage on a strip of spare land near a local school. “They accused us of being a front organization (for the communists),” Lu said. Another survivor, Cheng Teng-yun (鄭登雲), said he had been imprisoned for 10 years between the ages of 18 and 28. “Even now, I still don’t know how to describe the despair I felt at that time.” Chiang Min-chuan (姜民權) said he was denied an education after authorities charged him with being a communist spy. Chiang, who was born in Taiwan to a mainland Chinese family, was accused of being a mainland-born student in disguise and was thrown out of university. While later acquitted, he was never allowed to return to school. Tsai Yu-jung (蔡裕榮), director of a self-help group for victims of political persecution, said that more than 2,000 people were killed and 16,000 detained during the Kuomintang government’s anti-communism drive. The crackdown also wiped out Taiwan’s nascent civil society, Tsai said. “It is hoped that the suffering, determination and greatness of these survivors will lead the way for those still suffering political persecution,” National Human Rights Museum Director Wang Yi-chin (王逸群) said at Friday’s press conference. “We must continue to preserve and present the stories that people are reluctant to speak about to make sure that history is not forgotten over time,” Wang said.