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Liang Wen-jie -- a 'traitor' from a staunchly blue community
Central News Agency
2014-06-15 09:48 PM
By CNA reporter Ku Chuan and staff writer S.C. Chang Liang Wen-jie grew up in a staunchly pro-Kuomintang (KMT) community whose members were largely the offspring of people evacuated from the Dachen Islands off Zhejiang Province in the 1950s. Today, however, he is a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) city councilor in Taipei, and just carrying a DPP membership card is enough for the Dachen community to brand him a "traitor" or a "shame to Dachen people." Liang doesn't mind being called those names, nor does he mind that a wealthy relative has always donated big money to KMT candidates in every election but never donated one cent to his campaigns. "I can understand how they feel (about my being a turncoat)," Liang told CNA. "All my folks and their networks of relatives have parents or grandparents who emigrated to Taiwan during the 1950s," he said. Liang was referring to the exodus of 28,000 Dachen residents who were evacuated by Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist, or KMT, troops to Keelung in February 1955 and later resettled in various parts of Taiwan. The mass evacuation will be chronicled in a photo exhibition to be held from June 17 to July 16 at Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, ahead of next year's 60th anniversary of the mass retreat. The evacuation was necessary because the fall of the Yijiangshan Islands left the Dachen Islands too vulnerable to attack by the Chinese Communists and too far away from Taiwan for KMT forces to defend it. Culturally, it was a truly remote outpost despite being just kilometers from China's coast, Liang recalled. "Dachen was a backward area of China at that time," Liang said, explaining that his maternal great grandmother and maternal grandmother had bound feet and his great grandfather came to Taiwan with the Qing Dynasty trademark pigtail on his head. "My mom told me she was surprised to see electric lights in Keelung harbor when they first arrived there because they had never seen an electric light before," Liang said. Dachen people have generally not fared that well since coming to Taiwan, and Liang felt a majority of Dachen descendants here have a "strong sense of insecurity" because they feel they are just "guests" residing in Taiwan, Even so, they have lived lives that are much better than what they could have hoped for on their home islands, said Liang who was born in 1971 in Yonghe, New Taipei. He recalled spending his childhood with people carrying on Dachen cultural traditions by speaking the Taizhou dialect and eating dried fish, pickled crabs and pickled shrimp -- traditional dishes found in Dachen, where people relied on fishing to make a living. "Because of our historical connections with the KMT, a great majority of Dachen descendants are die-hard supporters of the KMT," the mainstay of Taiwan's pan-blue camp that includes the People First Party and the New Party, he said. The pan-blue camp supports close ties with Communist-ruled China, in contrast to the pan-green camp, led by the DPP and also including the Taiwan Solidarity Union, which call for Taiwan's political independence from China. "Most Dachen offspring vote for the KMT, including my own family members," said Liang, who expected all of his family members to vote for KMT nominee Sean Lien in this year's Taipei mayoral election. "I will be the only one voting for a pan-green candidate." Though fellow Dacheners object to his pan-green affinity, Liang said some still think "our own man" is more reliable and will seek his help when a politician's influence is needed to solve a problem. "They are not from my constituency. I think they will cast their ballots for KMT candidates when election time rolls around even though I helped them out," Liang said. The Dachen Islands are now under the jurisdiction of Taizhou -- the closest major city on China's coast to the islands -- and the city government invites Dachen natives and their descendants in Taiwan to visit their ancestors' homeland at the city's expense. Liang accompanied his mother on such a visit in 2008. "My mom said her old home was still there, but no one lives in it now," he recalled.
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