Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Knowing Su Beng's condition, I thought I should do something thoughtful, so I went to a nearby fruit stand in the afternoon, a few hours before our late afternoon meeting. I started off picking out some Japanese pears, a beautiful pineapple, and then I remembered that Su Beng likes to eat little green mangoes, so I picked up a bunch of those and had everything all boxed up.

I had talked to my Mom about Su Beng's health condition earlier and she was extremely concerned- especially considering Su Beng's age- so she said she'd call up her cousin for some medical advice. It turns out that her cousin, my uncle, Dr. Lai, is not only a medical doctor, but also happens to be a long time supporter of Su Beng.

Over a family dinner a few weeks ago, my uncle told me that when he was living in Kansas in the 1980s, he met Su Beng. Around the time that the Chinese language version of Taiwan's 400 Years of History was published (in 1980), Su Beng began making annual trips in the summer to Europe, North America and South America . He made contacts within the overseas Taiwanese communities where he spoke about Taiwan's history and sold copies of Taiwan's 400 Years of History. My uncle recounted how impressed he was by Su Beng's thorough, methodical speaking style. According to my uncle, Su Beng was even more thorough than most university professors- the way he repeated and summarized the main points made his message easily understood and retained by his "students."

The Kuomintang had actually tried to pay off Su Beng for the publishing rights of Taiwan's 400 Years of History. Of course when the book was published, it was banned in Taiwan, but the book still managed to get circulated. It awakened the consciousness of a entire generation of Taiwanese who never knew about Taiwan's unique history and development. And Su Beng's underground network expanded internationally.