A hero's welcome

Michael Richardson of the Boston Examiner has written about Su Beng's return to a hero's welcome.

Of course, as Su Beng's English Biographer, it is my duty to offer correction, clarification and comments where necessary and they appear below, after Mr. Richardson's article.

Here is Mr. Richardson's article:

Su Beng returns to a hero's welcome in Taiwan where he faces ROC jail cell:

Su Beng, Taiwan's elder champion of independence, has returned to Taiwan to a hero's welcome. The aged and ailing Su Beng had been hospitalized in Japan and fears were that he would not be able to return home.

While receiving treatment in Japan a number of Taiwanese independence advocates made a pilgrimage to Su Beng's bedside including musician Freddy Lim. Generations apart in age, the two men share a desire for Taiwan independence.

Photo courtesy of: Freddy Lim


Freddy Lim's visit to Japan to see Su Beng must raise concerns with the Republic of China in-exile government controlling Taiwan. Freddy, as he is known worldwide, is a heavy metal rock star and promotes Taiwan's liberation from the stage during his performances.

Freddy's message seems to be striking a chord with the youth of Taiwan. A recent poll showed that seven out of ten in the 18-29 year-old age group identify themselves as Taiwanese rather than Chinese, a demographic shift with huge political implications for the Kuomintang rulers of the island.

Su Beng can be expected to return to the struggle for independence for which he has tirelessly worked for over six decades. The Chinese government of Ma Ying-jeou must now decide if they intend to jail Su Beng for the 9-month prison sentence he recently recieved for a 2005 protest.

Su Beng was leading a protest against the Chinese at an airport rally when he got word that fellow demonstrators were being attacked by men in black shirts--organized thugs that distrupt outdoor political events in Taiwan--and gestured with his cane. Su Beng's outrage at the actions of the black shirts was seen by the ROC government as using a weapon to incite violence.

Although the news media in Taiwan give Su Beng infrequent attention, his weekly motorcades and other protests have made him a word-of-mouth folk hero and his views are moving from the margins of society into the mainstream.

Any attempt to lock up the frail advocate is sure to be met with noisy street protests and take Su Beng's message of independence to a larger audience.

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Here are my comments in response to Mr. Richardson's article:

Dear Michael,

Thank you kindly for writing about Su Beng and keeping all of us informed about him.

I'd like to offer few corrections, comments and clarification about your article.

Though the ROC Supreme Court did recently uphold a prison sentence for Su Beng, the sentence is for 6 months and 50 days (or a total of 230 days), not 9 months. A 9-month sentence was given to Bin Hong, Su Beng's assistant.

I'd also like to clarify that Su Beng has not been charged for gesturing with his cane- which could be misconstrued as a weapon. He has been charged for 2 incidents that occurred on April 26, 2005: 1) trying to obstruct Lien Chan on the highway en route to the Taiwan Taoyuan Airport 2) setting off fireworks in the Taiwan Taoyuan Airport.

I wrote about a photo that appeared with a caption stating "Su Beng waves a stick." The stick was in fact his cane: www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2009/10/08/2003455408

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If you read Mr. Richardson's article on the examiner.com website, you will notice that at the end of it is a video posted on www.youtube.com by Taiwan Independent Media Inc. It is a video of Su Beng's release from the hospital in Japan and return to Taiwan. I was touched to see how Su Beng was received at the airport and to hear many of the things said in the video. In a few days, I will post a translation of what was said in the video.