Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman and democracy activist Shih Ming-teh (???) received a lifetime achievement award on Saturday for dedicating his life and career to the advancement of human rights in Taiwan.
"I believed, I fought, I gave," said Shih, who received the award from Kao Su-po (???), head of the Taipei-based Chinese Association of Human Rights (CAHR).
The ceremony was attended by several of Shih's close friends, including former DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (???), former speaker of the now-defunct Taiwan Provincial Assembly Kao Yu-jen (???), former Foreign Minister Tien Hung-mao (???), and former Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (???).
Shih said he was fortunate to live through the past 42 years and see the many fundamental changes in Taiwan, most notably its transition from authoritarianism to democracy.
"I'm deeply moved because I got to live to see the results," he said, referring to Taiwan's numerous reforms such as a free press and the lifting of a ban on new political parties.
It is hoped that Shih's shining example can have an influence on Chinese people and help China move towards democracy, Hsu said.
Not only is Taiwan's democracy a major turn of events in human history, its democratization has the potential to change the fate of China's 1.4 billion people, he added.
The proudest thing, as a Taiwanese, is that the fight for democracy has not been easy, said Tien, who called on everyone to remember Shih as a pioneer of human rights and democracy in Taiwan.
Shih, who was DPP chairman from 1994 to 1996, was jailed between 1962 and 1977 for sedition after calling for Taiwan's independence from China, and again between 1980 and 1990. He was also a legislator from 1993 to 2002.
The political veteran is also founder of the Shih Ming-Te Foundation, a non-governmental organization based in New Taipei's Xizhi District that aims to promote the advancement of ethnic reconciliation, national freedom, equality, democracy and human rights.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel