TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Vice President William Lai (賴清德) on Thursday (July 2) attended a memorial event for Taiwan independence supporter Chen Wen-chen (陳文成) and suggested the nation's misfortunes should be turned into positives and democratic reform promoted.
A memorial event was held Thursday evening at National Taiwan University to commemorate the 39th anniversary of Chen’s death, CNA reported. Chen, an assistant mathematics professor who taught at Carnegie Mellon and was a supporter of independence, is widely believed to have been killed by the Kuomintang (KMT) government on July 2, 1981, upon returning to Taiwan for a family visit.
In addition to the vice president, Yang Tsui (楊翠), the chairwoman of Taiwan’s Transitional Justice Commission, and National Museum of Human Rights Director Chen Chun-hung (陳俊宏) were also present. A student group gave a musical performance in front of a silent crowd, while everyone held a white rose in memory of the rights advocate.
Lai gave his speech entirely in Taiwanese, thanking the National Taiwan University student union and graduate student association, which organized the event with other groups. He also expressed his gratitude on behalf of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
Lai said the cause of Chen’s death is unclear, and those who were responsible for it are even more unclear. The incident has caused grief and anger among Chen’s family and in Taiwan society, he remarked.
However, just like the events of Feb. 28, the White Terror, and so on, Lai pointed out that Taiwanese must turn innumerable unfortunate events into positives and promote democratic reform together.
The vice president emphasized that each era has a different calling. Now that China’s attempts to annex Taiwan are becoming more serious, the process of the democratic movement has evolved into protecting family members, safeguarding national sovereignty, and defending Taiwan’s democracy.
Lai added the president included transitional justice as an important policy after being elected. Furthermore, the Legislative Yuan promoted the relevant regulations, which passed upon the third reading.
Yang also gave a speech saying that since 1981, government agencies have investigated Chen’s death seven times. However, the conclusion of these investigations had always been the same as the first inquiry: Chen’s death was a suicide and unexpected.
She added these investigations never touched upon the responsibilities the KMT government had in regard to Chen's death, so there are still many unknowns.