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Ko: Annual Community Development Activities at Liberty Lane to Support Freedom of Speech

To mark the 26th year of Cheng Nan-jung’s martyrdom, Mayor Ko Wen-je attended the memorial activity on April 7. He announced that the city government will hold community-building events in the surrounding area of Liberty Lane every year to show its support for the freedom of speech.
During his address, the mayor recalled the life of Cheng. A native of Taipei City, Cheng was born in 1947 – the same year as the 228 Incident. After graduating from Jianguo High School, he attended the College of Engineering at National Cheng Kung University. He transferred to the Department of Philosophy at Fu Jen Catholic University and later to the Department of Philosophy of National Taiwan University
Cheng founded Freedom Era Weekly. He also called for the end of Martial Law and demanded righting the wrongs of the 228 Incident. He played a role in the pursuit of Taiwan’s democracy. He committed self-immolation on April 7, 1989.
When speaking about his visit to Cheng Nan-jung Foundation, Ko said that he stood on the spot where Cheng lost his life and could not help but wonder about a belief that is strong enough to fill a person with conviction to the point of sacrificing his life.
Ko remarked that the freedom of speech is like oxygen and water – people do not realize the importance until losing them. He told his students at medical school that when he was in elementary school, he and his classmates had to make lanterns and signs before they joined the parade to celebrate then-president Chiang Kai-shek’s birthday. The students found it quite hard to imagine, having grown up in a different era.
Democracy and Freedom do not appear out of thin air, noted the mayor. They are here to remember Cheng because freedom and democracy are the result of many people’s effort and sacrifice. He believes that those who contributed and sacrificed themselves during the process should be honored, and more importantly, we must ensure that no further drastic action will be needed to safeguard these values in the future.