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The Need to Be Nitpicky
Chen Ding-Nan had a very unique personality.
Some people said he was extremely nitpicky
For example, this one time he was on my car.
You see, it is quite impossible to have our cars
always ready for someone.
So, sometimes the car isn't that clean.
He would pick on this and that,
And if he smells the scent of cigarettes on the car,
he would be ready to have a fit.
We always thought, "Well I didn't ask you to take our car.
We're giving you a ride and you're picking on me?"
I was also afraid of having him on my car.
If you wanted to turn at a traffic light,
You had to start signaling 30 meters ahead
Or he would immediately be on your case
However some people, didn't think so.
Of course the people in construction always complained,
That Chen Ding-Nan is so nit-picky.
Planting a tree like this is fine,
but no, he always wants things this way or that way,
Rumors of Chen Ding-Nan's nitpickiness quickly spread.
However, in terms of demanding quality construction,
We can't say that's just being picky,
but having principles, being careful,
Whether Chen was actually "nit-picky," or had"principles"
the Yilan people could debate all day.
In 1985, the National High School Athletic Games were held in Yilan.
The second the torch was lit,
Beethoven's Ode to Joy came on for 16 measures,
then there was a 25 second break between
the fireworks and the peace bell.
Chen planned out every single detail
and closely supervised the proceedings.
At the closing ceremony, the chair
praised the games as"Flawless."
The head referee remarked,
"It was like holding the Olympics."
This was Chen Ding-Nan.
"The Need to Be Nitpicky"
"I have a dream that one day
this nation will rise up
and live out the true meaning of its creed:
We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal."
Chen collected many phrases from
famous speeches both modern and from history.
He made them into a book,
And read them until he could memorize them.
The longest speech he kept was
the one that Dr. Martin Luther King made in front of Lincoln Memorial
to 200 thousand people,
Titled"I Have a Dream" That speech.
One time when he was on my car
on our way to a hike,
he recited it for me.
We timed it on a stop watch.
Exactly 17 minutes.
On the way back, it was my turn to recite it.
17 minutes and 30 seconds.
I jokingly told him,
"lam only 30 seconds away from you."
Chairman Lin Guang-Yi was a good friend of Chen Ding-Nan.
He said that Chen had three drivers.
He was one of them.
We asked him why he would want to be one.
I see Chen,
giving his all for the Yilan.
He works day and night,
to the point that his body can not handle it.
I only labor for my own business.
I feel ashamed of myself in front of him.
So when there is a chance that I can be of service to him,
it lightens the shame I feel in my heart.
Every person in Yilan has their own way of remembering Chen Ding-Nan.
Of course us rural folk, the less fortunate,
we miss him a lot.
He never embezzled money during construction.
Everything constructed was sturdy.
He was kind and came from a tough background.
He took care of the farmers.
Of course he did.
Yu Shyi-Kun was good too.
Chen Ding-Nan and Yu Shyi-Kun were both good.
After the elections, victory was finally mine.
It's bizarre when you think about it.
150 days ago, I was begging people not to vote for me.
And yet today, I plead to each and everyone.
On June 4th,1964
the 3rd year law student at National Taiwan University,
Chen Ding-Nan was elected class president.
He wrote these words in his journal,
Perhaps this is a turning point in my future.
When Chen was 21 years old,
a political flame flickered in his heart.
However, after graduation,
Chen did not do as his friends and family expected,
which was to take the Bar, become a lawyer,
and launch into a career in politics.
Instead, Chen went into the business world.
Then in 1979, Chen Ding-Nan
came to the most important turning point in his life.
Chen was 36 years old.
He was a business man in Taipei,
a successful trade company owner.
Then the Formosa Incident occurred in 1979.
Two of the key figures involved,
Lin Yi-Hsiung and Yao Chia-Wen,
were close acquaintances of my husband.
In his heart, they were two extraordinary men.
Yet, the KMT declared them evil villains.
This was extremely shocking for Chen.
The Lin family massacre in 1970 stunned the entire island...
Chen declared then,
"Something so horrific just happened in Taiwan,
no matter how much money I make, it wouldn't make a difference."
So from that moment on,
he became concerned with politics.
In 1981, Chen Ding-Nan decided to return to Yilan County,
and run in the elections.
His decision changed the course of Yilan's history.
And played an important role in the development of Taiwan's democratic movement.
This was when congress was a non-reelection congress.
Politics where centered on the Taiwan Provincial Assembly.
So in the whole process
when you look at it objectively,
and compare Yillan Magistrate and Provincial Assembly Member
or course it's easier to run for Provincial Assembly Member.
At the time, Shyi-Kun wanted to run for Provincial Assembly Member,
Chang Chuan-Tien also wanted to run for Provincial Assembly Member,
and Ding-Nan wanted to run for Provincial Assembly Member as well.
But only two of them could be elected.
It'd be impossible for all three of them to get elected.
I remember going over with Huang-Hsiung
and Fei His-Ping.
I analyzed the entire situation for Chen.
If both candidates were to run, Although they are both exemplary,
it could result in a lose-lose situation.
Ding-Nan, for the greater good,
was very cooperative.
After he heard my analysis,
he immediately agreed.
On September 27th, 1981,
the day before Teacher's Day,
we were in the auditorium of Formosa Plastics
for Instructor Shi Jue-Ming's 3 year memorial anniversary.
Chen arrived a bit late
and asked me if I had seen Li Zan-Chen.
I told him Li had been by but probably left already.
I asked him why he was looking for Li.
Chen said, I want to tell him
That I'm going to run against him for Magistrate.
I told him to just forget it,
Li Zan-Chen was so famous.
He'd shaken hands with every man in the county.
No one even knows you,
how are you going to run against him?
Chen said, even if I lose,
it will still be the most heated election
in the history of Yilan County.
Since we're teachers,
we had our responsibilities.
In political atmosphere at the time,
we had agents at the school
dedicated to investigating our loyalty.
So most teachers at the time,
were not really willing to participate in
so-called Tangwai (outside of KMT party) Movements.
We called it Tangwai (outside of KMT party)
because there was no Democratic People's Party.
No one dared to openly support Tangwai (outside of KMT party).
So when we putting together leaflets
we had to find a secret location.
we were at Hsu Yu-Shen's place
and ran into Liu Shou-Cheng.
Liu was very skinny at the time.
Not round like now, but very thin.
His trade mark was a trench coat,
wearing this trench coat and a hat.
It was a rainy day and he had his hat pulled down,
you couldn't see his face clearly
his hat was pulled down so low.
We all dressed like that,
Instructor Zhou said,
"Nice to meet you, your name?"
And Liu said,"Not necessary, unneeded,
We don't need to tell each other our names.
As long as we know each other,
we don't need to say names aloud."
Chen Ding-Nan was originally viewed as the"sacrificed one"
But not long after the campaigning began,
the tides turned,
and a Chen Ding-Nan fever rose.
At the time he was running against Li Zan-Chen, nobody knew him.
Li was taller then him
Li insulted Chen by saying,
He's has a small figure.
How can he be a Magistrate!
Even if he was elected, no one would listen to him.
There are so many people in the county government.
Meaning, people would vote for a taller, bigger guy.
Chen was quick to respond.
He said that it wasn't about height,
The founding father of the ROC was about my height,
and he was able to establish the Republic of China.
You're right, if you don't recognize our founding father,
or else why are you insulting him?
He was my height.
Everyone applauded loudly at his response.
He could really react quickly.
That side of the auditorium
was completely packed
like sardines, could you imagine?
No one could get in.
I even saw someone trying to climb in through the window,
From the ventilation window.
Just lying there so they can listen.
Like a pyramid, I don't know,
there were all these heads peeking out from the window.
Li Zan-Chen then told us about flood control,
and how it needs to be done, and this and that.
Ding-Nan replied, you only know how to talk,
From the start of ***-Shan River to here,
in the past.
If a pig peed in it,
the whole thing would flood.
You've never done it properly,
and you're still talking about it.
If you want to do flood control, then you need to take out your plans,
you can't just talk and no walk.
At the very last public debate,
The entire Zong-Shang Auditorium in Loudong Town was packed.
At the end, Li Zan-Chen
kneeled down right on that auditorium stage,
he got on his knees right then and there.
If might not of been that bad, if he hadn't knelt.
But the second he did, everyone thought, it's over
the KMT is finished. Their mightiness had collapsed.
When the ballots were being counted up,
I went to Yilan and Yuanshan
and saw that we'd lost at quite a few polling stations.
But only by a small margin.
Everyone said to go check in Loudong.
When we got on Lanyang Bridge,
a thick fog closed in.
Where did all this fog come from?
We couldn't even see the road.
I said, we got a chance,
we might just win.
Why do you say that, everyone asked?
This sudden fog, obviously the tides are turning.
Loudong Township and Yilan City were the two largest electoral precincts.
Both of them would not announce the election results.
Many citizens came out themselves,
and surrounded the Loudong Township Office,
and the Loudong City Office,
and the Yilan City Office.
They went surrounded the places themselves,
declaring that they'd burn the place down if the results weren't announced.
The strange thing was,
when the results were delayed, the fog settled in.
Covering the entire main highway,
and even the offices that citizens had surrounded.
The fog was so thick, you couldn't see your fingers.
The KMT also felt the tables turning,
it wasn't until 10 p.m. that they announced you won,
and immediately after, the fog lifted.
By the time we arrived to Loudong,
the fireworks had already started.
by over 8200 votes.
When the KMT announced your victory,
they asked you not to look into how many votes you won by.
We actually tallied up a win by over 20 thousand votes,
although they only announced 8 thousand plus.
Yilan used to be call Kamalan
Facing the Pacific
and against the Hsuehshan Mountain Range,
its extraordinary geography,
and shapes the unique personality of the Yilan people.
During Taiwan's political dark era,
sparks of democracy often erupted in Yilan.
The Magistrate elections of 1981,
Chen Ding-Nan, a rookie in politics,
was able to break the 30-year KMT ruling,
and become Yilan's first Tangwai (outside of KMT party) Magistrate.
He began to realize
a"political miracle" that belonged to him and Yilan people.
This is when Chen Ding-Nan's nitpicky spirit took hold.
In the past, all civil servants were generally seen as
being well paid, living close to home,
and doing fairly easy work.
So the impression people had of civil servants was never good.
There was a saying,
You don't say I'm lazy,
I won't complain how little you pay me.
I think to a civil servant, that's a huge insult.
So Chen decided to rebuild,
the image and dignity of civil servants.
After he was elected,
his first reform was to clean up the corrupt political culture.
He forbid receiving red envelops.
And disallowed using connections.
If anyone in the office sent presents,
he would punish them.
If a unit outside the office sent gifts,
he would publicly announce the name of the unit.
So after awhile people understood his principles,
and there was no more"special" gifts.
When citizens wanted to hand in an application,
Chen demanded that the date be clearly stated,
along with the name and phone number of the executer.
He also demanded that the executer
handling the application
could only reject it once,
Before, civil servants had ID badges,
but they didn't dare wear it.
People had a bad impression of them.
Chen told them,
employees in the County Government needed to be humble in their work,
but filled with pride and dignity.
In the end everyone wore their ID badges, with their heads held high,
proclaiming, I work for the Yilan County Government.
Some citizens, some civil servants,
when taking a taxi out of county,
the driver asked where he was from,
and when he heard Yilan,
the taxi driver gave him a free ride.
Everyone was happy when he was elected.
In the past, no one went to the government office.
But after Chen was elected, people were very happy,
and would go walk around the office. Finally a commoner became Yilan's Magistrate,
let's go walk around there.
If Chen saw someone familiar, he'd say,
"Hey you, don't hang around here
if you don't have any business being at the County Office."
Then their friends wouldn't be able to bid on constructions.
It was tragic.
Not long after he was elected,
A group of men who bid on construction
paid a visit to my brother and I
saying,"You don't need to invest,
but if we need to go to the County Office
just accompany us.
If we make money, we'll give you a cut."
My brother declined them.
I said no too.
It's ok if life is a bit tougher,
we don't want to make that kind of cash.
In 1982, not long after Chen Ding-Nan was elected,
He found out there was some deal between the middlemen and the market.
Which forced the spring onion farmers in Yilan out
from making a fair profit.
Chen led all personnel involved to Taipei to catch the"pest"
People call them"Pests, pests."
Mayor Chen meant,
"You can't spray them to death,
so I'm going to catch the queen pest."
The night we went to catch the pest,
he was with me.
He told me,"No sleep for me tonight."
I asked him what his plan was. He said,
"I have to leave at midnight,
to go to Taipei and catch the pest."
I told him the triads are backing them there,
"Aren't you afraid of getting beat up?"
He said,"They don't dare, I'm a magistrate
They don't have the balls to fight me."
"Here, two items."
"2, s, s, s, s"
When they began to auction,
for example, 600 grams going for $40.
From the very start,
the triads had their foot on top of it.
Next, $30, no buyers.
$20, still no buyers.
$15, still no one.
$10, $9, and the triad member raised his hand,
And the spring onions were his.
Chen protested on the spot,
Saying it's obviously cheating.
Put your foot down.
Stan from the beginning.
Chen was such a Magistrate.
He had the drive and diligence,
going to the market at 2 in the morning.
There was no one in Yilan like that before,
only Chen Ding-Nan right?
Magistrate Chen was the only one.
This double layered road is two layers of rock.
Before there was only one layer,
Which was not strong enough and broke off easily.
During Chen Ding-Nan's term it became double layer rock,
filled with cement in between.
This rock was made during Chen's term as Magistrate.
He designed it himself.
All of this is double layer rock filled with cement in between.
The rock is stacked in the inner layer,
Then stacked again to make an outer layer.
Then cement is poured in.
The rocks are stacked about a meter thick before the cement is poured in.
This way the street won't collapse or break apart.
What people really miss about Chen Ding-Nan,
is that his construction lasts over a hundred years.
It wasn't like that before,
Before, things would break even before they were examined.
Chen's achievements quickly gained applause
During the 80's,
people in Yilan were always saying,
"Chen Ding-Nan has strong principles."
He always demanded the highest of standards.
Sometimes he would take a hammer to the street.
Saying if anything's off a few cm he'll hammer it down.
If it is not constructed properly then it must be redone.
Some people in the construction would say,
that the second they saw Chen with his briefcase out
they would start panicking.
Who knew which worker was going to be caught
for doing something wrong again.
Workers being scared at the sight of a briefcase,
quickly spread throughout the whole of Yilan County.
When the freeway was to be constructed at ***-Gang Bridge,
the people were very against it.
If the freeway was built,
for the businesses on both sides would be influenced,
the freeway would run on top,
and they would be under it.
When Chen Ding-Nan went to check on the progress,
it was even on TV.
Those people couldn't forgive Ding-Nan,
so they heisted him up.
He even lost one of his dress shoes in a corner.
But then someone picked it up from the corner,
and discovered his dress shoe was so worn down, there was no sole left.
He was so frugal.
That bridge was made by him.
To make it, he was pulled and tugged,
that even his shoe was yanked off.
That bridge, the ***-Gang Bridge,
is where he got ruffed up.
His suit was torn,
his dress shoe pulled off.
Everyone knows about it.
It's definitely not made up.
In the area past Dongshan Township and Suau
there are a total of 5 cement factories.
Back in those days,
there was no kind of equipment to prevent pollution.
So whenever we passed that area,
we could feel the suffocating smog.
Whenever I rode my scooter past that area,
I would step on the engine and flee.
One day after he was elected,
he went to Dongshan to attend a district meeting.
After it was over, we discovered,
Hey, my car was originally black, How did it become white?
Chen rubbed it with his fingers
and found that there was a layer of plaster dust.
So he went to investigate.
The cement factory was causing heavy pollution
especially air pollution.
To force the factory to improve,
Chen set up 24 hour surveillance
and continuously fined them
$60,000 each time.
In less then 6 months,
the rivers in Wulao Keng cleared up,
and the skies over Dongshan were blue again.
Moreover, on top of their salary,
made a few tens of million for the County Government.
Those examiners brought fortune.
So I remember the headline at the time,
The Water has Cleared in Wulao Keng,
Truly a Crystal Fountain Revived and Blue Skies Returned.
Chen Ding-Nan's perfectionism brought him the label of being "Nitpicky".
Chen's nitpickiness was everywhere.
There were tons of "Nitpicky" stories.
One year, the gift for Teacher's Day was a CorningWare.
Chen first asked for a sample.
Then, he got a scale,
and weighed the ware.
It passed and he made an order.
When they were delivered,
he took another CorningWare and weighed it again,
and discovered that the numbers didn't match up.
The weight was wrong so everything was sent back.
Sent back, and re-delivered,
re-weighed, before they were accepted.
However, Teacher's Day had already passed.
Chen Ding-Nan's way of doing things,
was sometimes criticized as being"cold-blooded."
He said, if you can't be liked and respected at the same time,
I would rather choose to be respected.
Yet his firm principles and determination
made him a highly admired politician.
The second farmers mention him,
it's like they're eating mung bean cakes, they're full of praise.
In the past, if Chen was going to speak in the area,
or check on construction,
like this Yung Din religious center,
Chen would always stop by.
Everyone would throw down their hoes and crowd over.
Everyone understood that excitement.
Over two thirds of us had voted for him.
At the time, our polling center
didn't need any rallies.
We just passed out fliers.
When people passed them out they just said,
"Make sure you vote for this Chen Ding-Nan."
The second time he ran for Magistrate was really easy.
Everyone was rejoicing.
In 1981, Chen narrowly beat his opponent by 8000 votes
In 1985, Chen took 70% of the votes and
beat KMT opponent Lin Jian-Rong by 80,000 votes.
He made a new record in the history of Taiwan's local politics.
is not the regular globe you buy at the book store.
Ding-Nan ordered this on from the National Geographic Association.
He believed that people needed a world view.
At the same time, when he went to the US,
He went to visit the National Geographic Association.
He greatly agreed with their motto
Chen loved to collect maps.
He had the map of Yilan enlarged
and placed on his office wall.
Everyday he would study the map,
and build his great Lanyang dream.
He said, his greatest hope was to have carved as his epitaph,
"The Creator of the Yilan Experience,
The Father of the Modernization of Yilan."
I'll take this pan off,
it still shows the construction plans for the stadium.
This was also written by him.
He had a Polaroid camera.
He would take photos on the scene
and immediately write notes on them.
After he wrote them down, he'd have his driver
give them to us the next day
to make improvements.
This area is flooded,
he's written that here.
Here the water is flowing back, so there's flooding.
Like this one, he's marking the stage.
There needs to be a chair for people to sit back stage.
He would mark on all the photos,
where he felt was too high,
and thought needed to be knocked down.
This place needs to be leveled,
This square rock.
Rocks need to be stacked in this under area.
These samples need to be tested first.
I remember once, bringing him these samples,
when he was in the hospital.
I still had to take the sample over for him to review,
check if this was okay.
As for the Loudong Sports Park,
We spent about NT$1 million on plans.
But we briefed the plans at least 7 times.
Because Chen was Magistrate,
he was extremely busy during the day time
and could not hold long meetings.
So when we went to review the layouts,
they were always scheduled at night.
Every meeting would be about 3, 4 hours to
even the entire day.
Sometimes we'd finish at 11, 12 p.m.
I remember one time it was Dec. 24th
and we discussed until day break.
Everyone said, its Christmas,
it was the next day, and light out already.
Everyone knows that the Japanese have extremely high standards.
In the end, they couldn't help but praise Magistrate Chen saying,
"You Taiwanese have even higher standards than us Japanese."
In the 1980's,
Chen Ding-Nan led the County Government
to launch in Yilan
a fierce modernization movement.
Planning for Loudong Sports Park began in 1987,
And began construction in 1989.
It was completed in 1994.
I recall when the government seized the land,
it cost roughly NT$180 million.
All the construction including a swimming pool, baseball field.
And all the scenic spots were built.
The entire case up until 1994, did not cost more then NT$600 million.
The Da An Forest Park in Taipei City, which was being constructed at the same time,
cost NT$ 6, 7 billion to build.
I remember receiving a letter from a Mr. Lai.
He said that when the land was seized,
he was quite upset.
However, during the construction
he watched as each flower, each grass,
each brick, and each tile slowly came together.
The Loudong Sports Park gradually materialized.
As the park was built, his emotions changed.
After it was completed,
he would often bring his out of county friends
to visit, and tell them,
"This area by the street lamps used to be my room.
In my heart I'd feel this indescribable joy."
Dongshan River, Yilan Sports Park
and Loudong Sports Park
brought great pride to the people of Yilan
and impressed the whole of Taiwan.
During Chen Ding-Nan's 8 year term,
these constructions were completed.
We feel that some people think he's nitpicky,
however, if you really get to know him,
you will understand that he has a broad vision,
and is capable of great achievements.
In reality, over the past 20 years,
many terms of Magistrates after him
are still working on cases that Chen planned.
They are still working through them.
The truth is they are still working through them today.
It once took Chen 17 minutes
to recite Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech
"I have a Dream" from memory.
Over 8 years in office, he engraved
his dreams on the Lanyang Plains.
The Chen Ding-Nan fever,
raged through the 80's
His name equaled"Quality Guaranteed"
became the most powerful propaganda
for the Tangwai Democracy Movement.
In 1987, Chen worked to halt G-NCP from constructing factories in Yilan.
He went on to a television debate with former owner *** Yung-Ching (Chairman of Formosa Plastic)
This debate allowed G-NCP to go from being a local issue
to one which received national attention.
It greatly increased environmental awareness in Yilan,
and successfully kept G-NCP from entering Yilan County.
"Yilan does not welcome G-NCP (Sixth Naptha Cracker Plant),
the main reason being that it conflicts
with the development of the County.
The second reason is that Yilan County is geographically closed.
It is extremely difficult for pollution in this area to disperse.
The third point,
is that Yilan has a very unique industrial framework.
The production in the fishing industry,
counts for over half of the total made in farming and fishing.
The marine life in this area
and the fishing industry will not be destroyed.
So while Formosa Plastics continues to mention zero pollution, or 100% beneficial,
we believe this is completely ignoring the blatant truth.
Honestly speaking, if G-NCP can really create
in Yilan 450,000 new job opportunities,
then I believe that Yilan County will definitely become another Shan Chong City.
Everywhere you look there are compression molding factories,
and injection molding factories.
There are small factories
making plastic bags all over the place.
The whole Yilan will be covered in smog.
It's not that Yilan doesn't want industry,
We just don't want petroleum industry,
with primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors.
In other words, we want industries without pollution."
If they hadn't succeeded in keeping out G-NCP then,
l am sure that Yilan would not have the clear waters
and green forests you see today.
Because if G-NCP came in,
it would be a chain reaction.
The secondary and tertiary sectors would follow.
So the opening of Hsueh Shan tunnel would be useless.
It would only allow those polluting
secondary and tertiary industries
to move in faster into Yilan.
But to me,
every time I see the natural beauties of Yilan,
l feel like its a reward, an encouragement and comfort.
People who still remember the fight against G-NCP,
in their lives, this victory will be a very important source of strength
source of confidence,
and source of pride.
In 1988, Chen Ding Nan ordered
the end of loyalty surveillance agents in schools,
and destroyed loyalty records.
The county theater no longer needed to play the national anthem.
In 1989, he order that county institutions
were exempt from flag ceremonies
and public places were no longer required to hang portraits of Sun Yat-Sen,
or other political figures.
He directly challenged the authoritarian system.
Yilan became the first county, after martial law was lifted,
to walk out of the White Terror.
Yilan was originally a rural area.
Soldiers from Yilan were always called fools.
Because they were honest and simple,
unwilling to reveal much of their own identities,
more low key.
After Chen became Magistrate,
if someone said, "I'm from Yilan,"
people would give him a thumbs up.
When his tern was up in 1989,
Chen Ding-Nan ran for legislator.
He easily received 80,000 votes in Yilan,
almost more then the total of the others combined.
"This Anti-4th Nuclear Plant Four Movement,
is not only a battle between Taipei County
and the Taipower company.
This is between the 20 million people in Taiwan
and Hau Pei-Tsun's authoritarian senate.
So not only do we need the people in the Taipei area,
but citizens everywhere need to unite forces.
We hope that through our friends and family,
we can call out to all 20 million people in Taiwan,
and with united awareness,
and joint efforts
we must force the KMT government
to announce they will abandon construction of Plant 4.
Thank you everyone."
I think when comparing Chen and other legislators,
the biggest difference is
that he does not waste time on socializing.
He also doesn't buddy up with other legislators,
solicitors or government units
and spend time making connections.
He was a lone wolf in the Legislative Yuan.
Because he didn't belong to any party,
he always decided his own path,
so he was more on his own.
This is how I saw it.
Although among the many DPP stars in the Legislative Yuan,
Chen Ding-Nan was no longer the only one in the spot light,
his efforts were recognized.
Actually, in the Legislative Yuan,
reporters always evaluated the legislators of each term.
They would critique each one.
Every term, Minister Chen's performance
would be at the top.
In general, all interpellations, to be honest, are written by assistants.
They are then sent over to some department,
and the reply is also written by some government staff member.
I used to say, it was a writing competition.
A competition between the senate's assistant and Communications Office,
Seeing who was the better writer.
However, what made me very proud was,
that whether it was the Party Office or Senate Office,
They would all say
when we receive a speech from Legislator Chen,
it was definitely written himself.
All of his interpellations were hand written by him.
We were all there during his interpellation.
When he finished his questioning
I always thought it was fantastic,
full of power.
"I have always believed that Taiwan was already
an independent country.
In reality, the ROC government,
has transformed from not recognizing the Chinese traitor, to recognizing it.
Our Minister Kuo went to Beijing,
and demonstrated respect to the flag, anthem,
and leader of the People's Republic of China.
I think in many areas, our government today
is using a variety of ways
to recognize that the People's Republic of China
is an independent country.
I believe we also must recognize
that Taiwan also being an independent nation is a fact.
Today we are faced by
what I feel is an extremely crucial and urgent situation.
I personally believe that if today's Taiwan
continues to cloak itself with the Republic of China,
I think that will bring eminent
and immediate danger to Taiwan."
What I thought was most rare, was that
whether it was a small government employee,
or worker, or janitor,
they all gave Mr. Chen a thumbs up.
They would even tell me,
"Mr. Chen is really something,
Working as an assistant and helping his with errands,
I was young back then,
only twenty something,
but I was proud of my work.
I remember this one time,
I think I was supposed to go to the Ministry of General Affairs
or some other department.
And there was this employee
who was still on the phone
and not really paying me any attention.
After he talked for awhile,
I guess he thought I'd been waiting too long,
He asked me,
"Which office are you from?"
I told him,"Mr. Chen Ding-Nan."
and he immediately jumped up,
said,"I'll call you back later,"
hung up the phone,
and asked me,"What can I do for Mr. Chen?"
So you can imagine how
everyone was honestly concerned with
what Mr. Chen was thinking,
or what he wanted to say.
Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean
Vote for Mr. Clean for Governor
so that Taiwan will have a better future.
This time the election was not simply one between Chen Ding-Nan and James Soong,
or just the DPP against the KMT.
This year end election,
is a for all the Taiwanese people who treasure Taiwan,
and recognize Taiwanese culture,
to stand up against a foreign rule.
It was a holy battle for democracy.
In 1994, Taiwan held its first Provincial Governor election.
Chen Ding-Nan was selected to represent the DPP
The"Yilan Experience" became his most powerful message,
The Chen Ding-Nan fever rose again,
Mr. Clean, Win win!
Mr. Clean, Win win!
Mr. Clean, Win win!
Mr. Clean, Win win!
Uncorrupt government, Strong reforms,
The four main ethnicities unified,
Hurry and support Chen Ding-Nan."
"The KMT says that if the DPP is elected into the Provincial Office
Then China will launch a military attack against Taiwan.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Governor elections, City Mayor elections,
only affect local construction
and reforms in the Provincial Office.
The future of Taiwan's national security,
and social stability,
lie in the hands of the KMT's central government.
The KMT controls the military,
and national defense.
The KMT has authority over Taiwan's diplomacy,
the police force,
and secret services.
Today the KMT is responsible for our national security
and social stability.
If the Governor is from the DPP
or the Mayor is DPP,
how is that related to national security?
How is it related to social stability?"
At the time, James Soong saw the threat,
The KMT saw the threat,
and they made a slogan,
if Chen Ding-Nan was elected,
Communist China would attack.
That is why the tables flipped,
and the"Yilan Experience"
could not break through the negative rumors.
In the end,
Chen Ding-Nan lost by 1 million votes.
Magistrate Chen's nitpicky personality,
did not subside when he was a legislator.
Everyone knew that Chen did not accept gifts,
but he would still send them to other people.
However, you couldn't get your hopes up too high.
I found a list he made one year
for Moon Festival gifts.
Curiously you'll discover,
that there isn't a single famous person on that list.
None of his so called instructors/superiors,
The funny thing, is I found Loudong Sports Park Labor Association,
two moon cakes per person,
also the doctors and nurses working in the hospital,
the cab drivers outside the train station,
two moon cakes each.
Chen had many rules.
For example, he would write,
what time the moon cakes needed to be delivered,
he had them all sorted out
because he wanted to make sure that when everyone
received their moon cakes
they still felt warm from the oven.
But you need to know,
at the time, there was no Hsueh Shan tunnel yet.
Premier Tang Fei, who is about to head the new cabinet
formally invited me this morning,
to become the Minister of Justice for the new government
I accepted on the spot.
In 2000, a new political party was elected into office for the first time
Chen Ding-Nan became the Minister of Justice.
People put their hopes in the"Black Gold Cleansing"
agenda of the new government.
Chen Ding-Nan was also filled with strong ambition
and eager to accomplish his goals.
"How dare you, try to buy tickets for someone else,
You're not going to get away with it.
How dare you!"
"Hey, why are they so strict?"
The second day that Chen was in office,
he instructed us
to draft plans on how to eradicate black gold
In roughly 4 days,
the Executive Yuan passed the plans.
In these plans,
the most important aspect was establishing a new organization
called the Black Gold Investigation Center.
Actually, the structure of black gold in Taiwan
to be honest,
the legislators make up a huge portion.
So it's because of this, the legislator elections,
become an important pan of busting black gold.
In the 2001 elections, Chen was extremely strict on
investigating electoral fraud in the legislator elections.
He personally led us head prosecutors and police force.
We went around the country like this many times.
And demanded that the Executive Yuan
must have the police chief take responsibility.
"Hello everyone, I am Tsai Bai Shiu
I deliver water for a living.
Catching vote buying is my profession.
I earn not from water but catching villains.
I catch one, I earn one.
I let you ride your Mercedes, wear your Rolex watches
Magistrates 5 millions, legislators 10 million.
It doesn't matter how much you make.
If you don't crack down on vote buying,
then Taiwan's politics will never get better.
Don't worry, villains are cowards.
If you buy votes, then I will call
After the 2001 December 1st legislator elections were over,
The day before the elections,
after the campaigning ended,
The Financial Times in London wrote that
this was the cleanest election Taiwan had ever held.
On December 3rd,
The China Post in Taiwan
did a survey and found that
70.1% of Taiwanese citizens
believed the elections were clean this time.
Minister Chen believed it was necessary
to fully respect the professional authority of prosecutors.
In other words, he let them go do what they needed to do.
They had the legal right
to investigate all cases.
So how can you allow a prosecutors
to really have the freedom
to investigate political figures?
That requires higher level government officials
to have minimal or even zero interference.
Chen Ding-Nan himself, followed this rule.
With regards to the prosecutorial system
and the cases being investigated,
Chen had no interference.
For example, some legislators
would come to the Ministry of Justice to confess.
Of course they may say they were there
to report complaints from the citizens.
But in the end, the legislator would always
start talking about his own case.
This is when Chen would call me in,
and say that we need to record the whole testimony,
so to make it more convenient for writing up news reports, etc.
The second we mentioned recording,
these legislators pretty much wouldn't dare to continue.
There was another time,
we went to the Investigation Bureau
to attend a convocation ceremony.
After it was over,
I was sitting with Minister Chen in the back seat on the way back
and he received a call
from a fairly well acquainted government official.
From the phone,
I could vaguely tell
that the person was about to start
talking about a case he was involved in.
Chen Ding-Nan immediately said,
"Sorry, I need to hang up now."
and he hung up the phone.
Minister Chen would often say,
"All the pressure ends at me."
So we believe,
Its not that he didn't have any political pressure,
he probably had pressure from the party
or other government departments. Some pressure.
But I think, he was helping us erect a firewall
to allow us prosecutors the freedom to investigate.
this also allowed the prosecutor's authority
to rise over night like a tiger freed from a cage.
People speculated that something was wrong the prosecution system.
It had gone out of control.
The prosecutor were out of line,
charging into political gray areas.
Society started suspecting that they were abusing their power.
Criticism from the media came flooding in.
Because the prosecutors had already investigated so many sensitive areas,
this caused criticism from the society.
Moreover, the legislators proposed to amend the constitution
in order to take away the investigative rights of prosecutors.
The media also violently fought back,
because you investigated the media
You are breaching on the freedom of speech, etc.
There was a lot of pressure on the Ministry of Justice.
So at the time, Minister Chen felt the need
to replace the head prosecutor.
The judicial system is the last safety net for social justice.
However, we could not deny that
over the past few months,
we had situations where some entry level government officials
were abusing their power.
On April 18th, 2001
without prior notice, Chen Ding-Nan
announced his decision to replace the head prosecutor.
This sparked strong disapproval from the prosecutorial system.
The sudden reshuffling was labeled
"Taiwan Massacre Weekend Version" by the Judicial Reform Foundation
The image of prosecutors,
all took a heavy blow.
During the second Chief Prosecutor transfer
Chen said one of our classic sayings,
He said,"All prosecutors hold a sacred sword in their hands.
However, it must only be used following the laws of justice,
or else this sword will fall to abuse the system.
At the time, the prosecutors the Judicial Reform Foundation
were extremely unhappy with Chen.
This is because some prosecutors believed
that the changes occurred
because Chen probably had some political reason.
Perhaps people believe
that outside powers had interfered.
But then we think back to when
Chen Ding-Nan and James Soong
ran against each other in the 1994 Governor elections.
They were the two strongest opponents.
If we look at the case that would affect Chen Ding-Nan personally the most,
it is definitely the Chung Hsing Bills Finance case.
The case occurred when Huang Shi-Ming
was Chief Prosecutor of the Taipei District Prosecutors Office
Huang decided not to indict Soong.
Evidently Chen didn't look into the case,
otherwise a case like that
should have been taken to court.
After the prosecutors were reshuffled in 2001
Chen Ding-Nan became more distant from them.
Chen was very particular about the"Ministry of Justice" Chinese and English sign
because it would be there for a long time.
Look at this,
Have you seen anything like this?
There are so many ways to write this one Fa (Law) character.
Most people would ask,
why did the"Ministry of Justice", three words,
take so long to construct?
You can see again from this incident,
Chen's perfectionist side.
Everyone knew that he had high standards
and was extremely strict.
We were all scared.
The first time I was sent to his office,
he actually took a ruler and measured it for me,
saying,"Didn't I tell you
how much space to leave in the upper and lower margins?
You are off by 0.2 cm!"
He often asked that if we had anything we wanted to report,
we write it down,
and leave it on his desk.
Then he would leave instructions on it,
what you needed to do next.
Like this one he says,
The phone number and address of the complaint
cannot be written on the crease.
This is the last warning.
We were terrified of red writing like this.
It meant that this was not the first time.
This was very serious.
We liked to collect these instructions,
because it was fun.
We especially liked to collect other people's
because we would use them, to make fun of each other.
In 2002, Taiwan and the US
signed a Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement.
Chen Diin-Nan became Taiwan's first government official
since the US cut diplomatic relations in 1979,
to be invited to visit the White House.
The process of signing the agreement
was actually very dramatic.
The US was dealing with the September 11th attacks
and taking precautionary measures against terrorism.
The country needed support from many countries,
Minister Chen invited a US diplomatic representative in Taiwan to his office.
He then told him,"I want to go to the states
to discuss matters regarding judicial mutual assistance."
From the very beginning he declared that he wanted to go to the White House and meet
the US Attorney General, who at the time
was John Ashcroft.
You know, at the time, Taiwan and the US
did not have formal diplomatic relations.
So this was a tricky situation.
Up until the last minute,
the message we received was that
the highest official Chen would be able to meet
would probably only the Deputy Attorney General.
At the time Minister Chen still stood his ground
saying,"I can not accept these circumstances."
It wasn't until the very last minute
that we were notified,
that tomorrow's meeting,
the US Attorney General himself would meet with Chen.
Minister Chen was extremely happy.
At the time he was being interviewed by Voice of America (VOA).
The host even said,
Over the past 23 years,
this is the first Minister of Justice from Taiwan
that is allowed to enter the White House.
The position as Minister of Justice
is appointed by the current government.
It's bound to run into conflict.
How do you expect the Minister of Justice
to not back down from authority?
And even if he takes down his superior,
he must do so without regrets.
This is quite a difficult thing to do,
yet it is pretty much
the duty and destiny of the Minister of Justice.
Colleagues present flowers.
In 2004, Chen Shui-Bian was re-elected president.
Chen Ding-Nan continued as Minister of Justice.
However, the accumulating disappointments
gave him the idea of letting go instead of pushing forward.
For example, he suggested candidates
for Prosecutor General and other personnel
But practically none of his suggestions were taken into consideration by his superiors.
Of course we had logical reasons to guess
that Chen probably, was less and less favored by his superiors.
So I am guessing,
that Minister Chen probably knew it in his heart.
My dear friends it's hard to say goodbye
Papa and Mama
I will write to you,
Momentary separation, please don't worry,
Kamome, Kamome, Kamome fly by
The most crucial incident was probably the one in 2004,
when the legislator elections were being investigated for electoral fraud.
My understanding is that within his own party,
he was harshly attacked
making him extremely disheartened.
Even from the same political party,
when a candidate loses in a election,
he could easily blame his loss on
those responsible for investigating electoral fraud.
The Minister of Justice must take the responsibility
of the investigation.
For thousands of miles the sky and ocean are one.
The light ocean breeze blesses our departure,
The charming Southeast Asian seas,
The scent of Papaya flowers
Kamome, Kamome, Kamome, flies by
All is smooth we sing poems and tunes,
Lightly strumming the strumming the guitar
Happily we set sail.
After the Beiyi Freeway was completed at the end of the year,
Yilan Couty entered another crucial stage of development.
Like 24 years ago, I must go beyond my own personal gains
and again carry the political cross.
In 2005, Chen Ding-Nan resigned from his position as Minister of Justice
and returned to Yilan to again run for Magistrate.
This time, Chen Ding-Nan
got a taste of failure in his hometown.
There were many reasons for his loss at the time.
First of all was the
incident with Chao Chien-ming.
Everyone was criticizing Chen Shui-Bian and the Chen government,
which greatly damaged the image of the DPP.
After the results of the 15th Magistrate elections were released,
we did not succeed.
Simply put, we had been defeated.
I believe failure came from the disunion of the party.
Party members would think,
You are a minister and you still want to hoard this position.
If you are elected for 4 years, you'll hoard it for 4.
If you are elected for 8 years, you'll hoard it for 8.
Everyone wanted to shine.
I grant my deepest apologies.
The glow from the"Father of Lanyang"
could not triumph against the political realities.
24 years ago, Chen Victoriously took political power
24 years later he handed it back himself.
Chen being a citizen of Yilan,
He was a pride of Yilan.
Him being the magistrate,
made the people of Yilan proud.
Then he set examples in Yilan that
not only affected
Tangwai (outside of KMT party) members and the DPP.
We discovered that Yilan's government officials
including KMT members,
but our representatives at all levels,
we still think they are all good.
They are quite good,
and all spoken highly of.
At least they don't pull shady stunts.
I think the entire trend is,
a noble man is like the wind, a villain is like grass.
If the wind blows, the grass bends
and sweeps in core values,
The core values of the Yilan government.
Slowly, the people began to have these expectations
for political figures.
At the time we lived in Taipei.
There was a construction site near our house.
After the workers finished,
They left behind a dog.
They did not take it with them, and it became a stray.
Ding-Nan found the dog and brought it home.
That was before we had kids.
He spoiled it like it was his own kid.
He gave it baths.
He put it on his knees when he was watching TV.
He treated it just like a young child.
Then one day without warning,
the dog died, it was lying on the ground.
I was heart broken,
Ding-Nan was also crying.
Tears were streaming down this man's face,
all for a dog.
"Good Morning Angel of Death,
Yesterday evening, Thursday, June 8th,
I cried my heart out,
like my tears would never stop.
I wasn't crying because of my illness,
and not from fearing death.
I was crying tears of happiness,
because our youngest son successfully entered the same university as his brother,
majoring in Life Science."
On June 6th, 2006
the Hsueh Shan Tunnel which took 15 years
to complete held it's opening ceremony.
Yet Chen Ding-Nan, the man who first made it happen,
was in the hospital fighting lung adenocarcinoma cancer.
"Good Morning Angel of Death,
It's already been 10 days.
You weren't yelled at, were you?"
Chen was not afraid of facing death.
Instead he started a blog,
joking around with Death
and he still kept his nitpickiness.
"Yesterday, our youngest son brought over
a book given by a friend over seas
and a card.
The title of the book is
"An Unfinished Life"
Like the sun that gets brighter,
After it rises at dawn
May you feel a little stronger everyday.
Kiss me goodbye,
Angel of Death.
P.S. Please tell your boss that I am very nitpicky!"
On November 5th,2006
Chen Ding-Nan passed away at the National Taiwan University Hospital.
He was 63 years old.
When we hear of landslides and floods, we appreciate his foresight and efforts.
When there is corruption in the government, we reminisce his honesty and capabilities.
We are lucky, that we at least have Chen Ding-Nan to remember.
However, memories are often forgotten with time.
Our children can only lose themselves in an era of muddy values.
Democratic Taiwan desperately needs
a government which stands firm against corruption.
We have the responsibility to pass on an example our children can learn from.