Taipei, April 16 (CNA) Former presidential advisor and Taiwan independence advocate Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) said on Sunday that many of his proposals for the building of a democratic Taiwan have been realized, though two major tasks remain unfinished 53 years after the publication of his renowned "manifesto."
The two tasks are adopting a new constitution for Taiwan and joining the United Nations under the name "Taiwan" instead of "Republic of China," he told an audience attending a book launch to mark the republication of his two books.
Since he and several colleagues launched a democracy campaign in 1964 and released the "Manifesto of Taiwanese People's Self-Rescue Movement," Taiwan has adopted the direct popular election of the president, normalized the Legislature or parliament and now upholds freedom of speech, press and association, Peng said.
Peng's political proposals and life story were detailed in "A Taste of Freedom" and "A Perfect Escape" -- the two books that were at the center of Sunday's event.
"Giving Taiwan a new constitution fit for its long-term development and gaining U.N. membership under the name Taiwan are important tasks for the country," he said.
Although more than half a century has elapsed, the importance of realizing these goals remains the same, he said. "When will they ever be realized? To be frank, I do not know," added Peng, 93.
Peng fled the country in 1970, not returning until 1992. In 1996, he ran in the nation's first direct presidential election as the opposition Democratic Progressive Party's candidate, gaining 21 percent of the vote, trailing the Kuomintang's Lee Teng-hui, who received 54 percent.
Peng said over the years many of his readers have asked why he has not disclosed more details about his escape from Taiwan and life abroad.
"There should be no problem now that a half century has passed, right? But you wouldn't believe it: Some family members of those who helped me and who have since passed away still ask that I don't reveal their names," Peng said.
For example, Peng said, a certain figure privately told him a few years ago that his father had waited more than 50 years to disclose how Peng lost his arm during the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945.
That Taiwanese physician helped a Japanese doctor operate on Peng, according to the physician's son -- a fact Peng himself has readily acknowledged, publicly thanking the physician as an old friend and benefactor.
"You see," Peng said, "Although Taiwan was free and democratic and Martial Law long since ended, this senior Taiwanese still dared not tell this story until five, six years ago."
"Imagine the impact the Kuomintang's politics of terrifying people had here -- a man dared not tell his story of having helped Peng Ming-min until 50 to 60 years later," Peng said.
Wu Mi-cha (吳密察), director of Academia Historica, lauded Peng as a brave and honest intellectual who has the knowledge and courage to tell "the powers that be" what is best for Taiwan.
"He is a true Taiwanese patriot whose prescriptions for this country remain valid today, which is why we are celebrating the reprinting of these two books," said Wu.
(By Sophia Yeh and S.C. Chang)