Voice of Taiwan -- A Review, by Morgan Chang

 

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原文 「台灣之音」的回顧 張富雄 載於《見證關鍵時刻高雄事件 – [台灣之音]錄音記錄選輯》

吳三連台灣史料基金會  20061210日刊行 .p.43-47

by Morgan Fu-Hsiung Chang (Founder of Voice of Taiwan) tr. by Sandi Liu

(Data provided by Wu San-Lien Foundation For Taiwan Historical Materials; original text published in the book Witnessing Kaohsiung Incident –Selected Tape Recordings of Voice of Taiwan.)。下文錄自「台灣海外網」加些漢字


The newly appointed president of the Taiwanese Association of New York in America, Mr. Stephen (Junntye) Lin(林俊提), held an officers meeting back in early 1977. During that meeting, I suggested that we could use an answering machine to form the Voice of Taiwan, as an avenue for distributing news for the Association. I had gotten this idea from the fact that, back then, in the United States, we could call a phone number at any time to get the day's weather. I used this service every morning and thought it was very convenient. During the meeting, it was decided that I would be responsible for carrying out my suggestion. Soon after, President Lin personally delivered a new answering machine and audio tapes over to my house. At the time, my wife Eileen (Yi-Yi,楊宜宜) and I lived in a rented apartment in Woodside, Queens. I was working at the securities brokerage firm, E. F. Hutton, on Wall Street, and Eileen (Yi-Yi) stayed at home to take care of our two-year-old daughter, Gloria.

The Voice of Taiwan(「台灣之音」 made its first test broadcast on April 1st, 1977, and formally started operating on May 1st, using the telephone number (212) 726-3023. The contents of the broadcast were first entered by me onto a keypunch card, then recorded after Eileen (Yi-Yi)'s edits. The first answering machine could only produce a three minute segment, and soon I discovered that this limitation was too short and hard to work with. President Lin went to search for better machines and finally found one in which the recording time could be as long or short as we wanted, and could even include interview segments. I remember our first interview being on site at a violin recital at which the two Wang daughters, Linda and Grace, performed. They were very cute and exceptional violin players, and the location was at the New York Queens Botanical Garden.

When the Voice of Taiwan first started broadcasting, the content changed once a week. On August 16, 1977, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan published a "Human Rights Declaration"(人權宣言) urging the Kuomintang government to establish Taiwan as a "new and independent" country. This Declaration was immediately censored by the government in Taiwan. Coincidentally, my third sister, Emma (Chang Hui-Jen), and her family were about to immigrate to Los Angeles. Pastor Tjgtlrot quickly decided to use this opportunity to visit my sister at her home, and asked her to send an envelope to me via express mail as soon as she got off the plane. My sister, being a beautiful and innocent person she was, did so without hesitation or suspicion of motives. I did not tell her until twenty years later that what she sent was the "Human Rights Declaration." After receiving the document in New York, in addition to broadcasting it repeatedly on the Voice of Taiwan, a month later I also invited sixty-eight members from the Taiwanese Associations and Taiwanese churches all over America, and American church friends to collectively purchase an advertisement in the New York Times(紐約時報). It appeared on page A14 in the September 21, 1977 issue with the English title "Listen!! Outcry Within Taiwan: 'A New and Independent Country'" and a separate Chinese title of "Taiwanese Want Independence"(台灣人民要獨立) drafted by Dr. Teng-Lung Hsu(許登龍), and written by Mr. Rei-Fung Hsu(許瑞峰) in calligraphy. This ad cost us around $10,000 (U.S. dollars), and at that time we depended entirely on voluntary contributions to pay for it.

On November 19, 1977 the Chung-Li Incident (中壢事件)took place, and from then on we greatly increased the number of news reports on Taiwan politics on the Voice of Taiwan. 1978 saw the formation of the Tangwai Island-Wide Candidates Campaign Coalition(黨外助選團) and the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and China. In 1979, Chen Wan-Jen protested with a fast, Formosa (美麗島雜誌,"The Magazine of Democratic Movement") was formed, and the Kaohsiung Incident(高雄事件), the Lin Yi-Hsiung (林義雄)family murders, and the trial for the Kaohsiung Incident all followed in rapid succession. All these political events left us with barely any time to catch our breath. In crisis situations, we could be found changing our program five times in one day. Back then, we were often awoken in the middle of the night by long distance phone calls from Taiwan, and we started production of the broadcast as soon as we received the news, often working until 5am. I had to leave the house for work at 7am. Thinking back, I can't believe how we got through those days. Sometimes, Eileen (Yi-Yi) and I closed our doors while we were busy taking phone calls and making recordings to reduce any extraneous noise, but on some tapes you can still hear our two daughters crying outside the door.

New and urgent events kept occurring in Taiwan, and many ex-patriots here were eager to absorb the information. They called into our phone lines day and night; people in Taiwan were even calling in to hear the latest information. One of the tales I recall with excitement and pride occurred on the day of the large Kaohsiung Incident demonstration. We were on the phone with Ms. Chang Mei-Jen (張美貞,sister of Chang Jun-Hsiung) who was at the scene in Kaohsiung, and suddenly we heard her shouting out: "Ah! The police released tear gas!" The explosion of the bombs following that statement was loud and clear, and made all of us listeners feel as if we were on location, experiencing it ourselves. This event remains unforgettable in the minds of many to this day.

In the beginning, all expenses incurred by the Voice of Taiwan were completely covered by the Taiwanese Association of New York. After 1978, the Association became overwhelmingly burdened by the staggering cost of the collect calls and suggested that the hotline start encouraging voluntary contributions from its listeners. Naturally, the Voice of Taiwan operations then became increasingly independent of the Association. Even so, Stephen Lin's successor, Mr. Martin (Ming-Feng) Tsai(蔡明峰), still contributed $500 to the hotline. I remember clearly the day that we received our first $1000 check, from a Guo-Chung Liao(廖國仲). At the time we did not know who he was. This Mr. Liao, who passed away two years ago, was known within the Association as the man who "participated in a 'truckload' of charitable deeds, but barely uttered a word." He knew of our financial situation and quietly contributed so generously. Other listeners were like him, giving us financial support in large and small sums, without recognition, to keep us in operation for the next five years. Another gentleman who donated $1000 when we first started the project was Mr. Pei-Long Hsu(許丕龍) of Los Angeles. My older daughter (now renamed Sister Mary Gloria) had Mr. Hsu's older brother, Dr. Teng-Lung Hsu, as her godfather at her baptism. Beginnings are always hard; the early aid of all our supporters is especially hard to forget.

To encourage donations to support our immense telephone bill, painter Tsin-Fang Chen(陳錦芳) supplied us with his limited edition paintings "Looking Towards the Homeland"(望鄉) at low cost and donated one hundred cassette tape recordings of his "Taiwan Historical Poems." Dr. Teng-Lung Hsu's other younger brother also presented us with fifty "Let's Sing Together"(大家唱) song books as the gifts. We were showered regularly with letters from all over the world and they warmed our hearts and encouraged us immensely. An anonymous gift of a silk painting depicting lotus flowers and birds was small, but the love contained in it was heartfelt. Eileen (Yi-Yi) framed and hung it on the wall, and throughout the last quarter century, even though the decorations in our house have changed many times, this silk painting has never been removed. Eileen (Yi-Yi) believes it is the only thing we have left that commemorates the Voice of Taiwan, and it has always held a special place in our hearts.

In July of 1978, we moved from Woodside to Jamaica Estates, and thus the Voice of Taiwan found a new home. In addition to broadcasting in Taiwanese, we added a Mandarin line, and sometimes delivered news in Hakka (客語,another dialect in Taiwan). The telephone number also changed to (212) 523-7855 (Taiwanese) and (212) 523-5672 (Mandarin). Eileen (Yi-Yi) was always the main broadcaster; I and a couple of other Taiwanese individuals occasionally participated in the broadcasting too. Association President Lin continued to support our recording hardware needs, even after he stepped down from the post. To keep up with the increasing number of listeners, we had to keep updating our machine. The last two machines we used were a then-advanced model that had ten incoming lines and could service ten consecutive listeners at a time. However, because of limited funding, we could only support seven lines: five in Taiwanese and two in Mandarin/Hakka. The machines were not big in size and comparable to the size of desktop pc today, only a little thicker. We also installed a counter on the machines so that we could tally the total number of incoming calls. And because we had around 30 to 40 affiliated stations, we also purchased an answering machine for their re-distribution and assigned to them the "internal" number of (212) 523-7856. In all, from the first day of our broadcast, the machines we employed were sturdy and top-of-the-line models available in the U.S.

Living in our Jamaica Estates neighborhood was an older couple, Mr. and Mrs. ChaoYin Chang(張超英), who happened to be good friends with my oldest sister and her husband. We benefited from their generosity when Eileen (Yi-Yi) and I first came to New York. Mr. Chang gave us a very old and large tape recorder and an outdated-format tape that contained folk songs from Taiwan. We used it to archive some of our work, and these became the three rolls of tape that were mentioned in this book.

Thanks to the Voice of Taiwan's timely and accurate broadcasts and our faithful service to our listeners, our program had a high tune-in rate and affirmation from our listeners. After the Kaohsiung Incident, overseas Taiwanese groups came together to form a "United Front for the Formation of the Country of Taiwan(台灣建國聯合陣線." Next came the bombing of the Coordination Council for North American Affairs Office(北美事務協調會) in New York (Taiwan's representative organization in the U.S. at the time). Many Kuomintang Offices in the U.S. came under attack. Then, on February 28, 1980, the brutal Lin family murders occurred. As in the past, the Voice of Taiwan reported on these events immediately. But after this series of incidents, we started noticing several unfamiliar and questionable Chinese individuals loitering around our house. Eileen(Yi-Yi) told me that she also saw young Chinese men, with close-cropped hair, surreptitiously monitoring her when she went to the post office box of the Jamaica Post Office for the mail of the Voice of Taiwan. Some of our Taiwanese friends feared for our safety, suggesting we apply for a gun license so we could carry one in self-defense; some of them even suggested that we flee to Brazil, where we could stay with Eileen (Yi-Yi)'s brother Simon Suh-Wen Cheng(鄭士文) for a while. However, we did not follow through on any of these suggestions. I only made one change, and that was to move the Voice of Taiwan's answering machines from my house to a Forest Hills phone service company. The hotline number had to change once again, to (212) 261-5111 (Taiwanese), and (212) 261-5551 (Mandarin). We just rented a small space from this company to house our machines, and in the morning I would exchange the tape on my way to work after recording a new program at home. This phone service company was operational 24-hours a day, so we had access to our machines at all times. We made this move in fear of the Kuomintang's secret service cutting the telephone lines at our house, which seemed to us like something they could easily have done.

On August 7, 1979, Ms. Chen Wan-Jen(陳婉真), the founder and editor of the first Taiwan underground publication in decades, Chao-Liu ("Tide"), was a guest at my house, when she suddenly received news that two of her Chao-Liu co-workers, Chen Bo-Wen (陳博文)and Yang Yu-Rong(楊裕榮), had been incarcerated by the Kuomintang in Taiwan. She immediately decided to fast in protest and proceeded to write a letter which she brought to the Coordination Council for North American Affairs Office in New York on August 9. From that day on, Chen Wan-Jen sat at the office entrance, sleeping in a sleeping bag at night. Besides going to the bathroom, she stayed at her post day and night and fasted. Eileen (Yi-Yi) stayed on-site to take care of her, living in a nearby hotel with several other supporters and providing up-to-date information to me, without coming home for the next 12 days. I passed the Voice of Taiwan broadcasts, along with a recording of Chen Wan-Jen's declaration, on to Mr. Shih Ming-De(施明德), who said he was going to distribute them within the island. I had also left my daughters, one-and-a-half year-old Karen Im-Im(音音) and four year-old Gloria Mi-Mi(敏敏) with our neighbor Mr. Chau Song Ou’s(歐昭松) wife Alvina for caretaking. Because of this non-stop, twelve-day fasting protest, I constantly had new material for the Voice of Taiwan, and it attracted people from numerous states near and far who showed up in person to support Chen Wan-Jen, until her body gave in and she was rushed to the hospital on August 21.

Before the Kaohsiung Incident, twenty-nine affiliate stations of the Voice of Taiwan had already been established in various locations. Several locales attempted to produce their own programming, and others called our "internal line" to relay the news we recorded in New York. In the early 1980s, long distance telephone fees were very expensive, so having additional numbers across the country not only made it more affordable for the listeners, it also alleviated the problem of long wait times to get through to the New York lines. In Europe, France and Germany both had a Voice of Taiwan station. Since international calling was too expensive, we mailed tapes to those overseas stations every two weeks.

In December of 1981, my father-in-law, Dr. Yang Tien-Ho(楊天和), who had been the only doctor for ten years on the island of Okinoshima in Shikoku(四國), Japan, was suddenly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was admitted to the hospital in Kobe. Eileen (Yi-Yi) immediately flew to Japan and took care of him for the last three months of his life. During this time, I recorded programs at night, exchanged the tapes in the morning, and then went to work. A relative remained available to help take care of my four- and seven-year-old daughters, but work on the Voice of Taiwan never ceased. Up until February of 1982, that is, when our machines stopped functioning. I also realized that I was extremely exhausted, so I reached out to the San Francisco Bay Area Voice of Taiwan host, Mr. Chieh Huang, to take over for me, and announced that, effective immediately, his station would be responsible for production.

Several months after the New York Voice of Taiwan went off the air, we received a letter from New York telephone company. We were told that our private home telephone line had been on a request list to the U.S. Federal Court for wire tapping for the past 33 months. The first request was approved for three months, and the request was renewed 10 times thereafter, for a total of 33 months. The telephone company was informing me that they would no longer be wire tapping our line.

In the summer of 1980, after the Kaohsiung Incident, we discovered an FBI agent's card in our house mailbox, telling us to call him. He wanted me to meet him at the FBI headquarters in Manhattan. I met him for over half an hour, and he wanted to know the sponsoring organization and money sources for the Voice of Taiwan. I told him the truth, that the Voice of Taiwan was not affiliated with any groups, and the only people responsible for it were my wife Eileen (Yi-Yi) and I. I also told him that our funding came completely from voluntary donations of our listeners.

The World United Formosans for Independence states in their organization history that on December 15, 1978, Taiwan and the U.S. severed formal ties, and Mr. Chang Fu-Hsiung(Morgan) and Mrs. Chang Yang Yi-Yi(Eileen) created the Voice of Taiwan. This date is not entirely accurate. By the time Taiwan and the U.S. had severed relations, we had been broadcasting for one year and eight months and had already garnered the support of hundreds of listeners of every program. What actually happened was, after the breaking of ties between the countries, the World United Formosans for Independence appealed to their New York area members to donate to our cause. Perhaps upon hearing of our financial troubles, the organization graciously decided to offer us a helping hand, so for that we are grateful. However, the formation date of the Voice of Taiwan that is published in their history stands to be corrected.

After 1979, we tried hard to further develop the Voice of Taiwan by recruiting professionals to run and manage the project as an enterprise. Sadly, we did not succeed in doing so. After 1980, publications like the Formosa Weekly, Asian Business News, Taiwan Tribune, etc. all made their debut, so it was no longer as difficult to obtain news on Taiwan as it was in the 70s. Thus, the New York Voice of Taiwan's mission for this period was declared completed in early 1982.

From start to finish, in a span of almost five years, we received love, support, and encouragement from an overwhelming amount of people which I could not finish listing even if I had twenty pages to devote to listing their names. I vaguely remember that on Mother's Day, we would broadcast the Taiwanese poem "Thanking Mother" by the deceased poet Mr. Thomas (Guo-Wei) Kang. We have also recited our friend Adie (Sim-ti) Lim’s children's poem (under the pseudonym "Lin Tua-Be") and broadcasted his guitar performance, along with poems by pastor Tjgtlrot under the pseudonyms of "Kho Chhut-Mia," "Lin Dau-Hue," and "Ng Keng Jio," etc. After Ronald Reagan was elected president, many people took great interest in the stock market, and Mr. Frank (Wen-Hsiung) Lai(賴文雄) from the Taiwan Association would supply us with an analysis of the market every Monday. After the Kaohsiung Incident, several historians in Hong Kong published an account for which my friend, Professor Thomas (Hong-Chi) Lee, participated in the editing. We later reserved a shipment of this Account of the Kaohsiung Incident and presented them to our donors as gifts, which in turn financially supported the historians' publication.

My good friend and former Columbia College classmate Wu Cheng-Shan (吳成三)later returned to Taiwan with his wife and opened a Taiouan(Taiwan) Shop off of Hsin-Shen South Road in Taipei. Because of his affirmation and support of the Voice of Taiwan in the past, I took the opportunity while I was visiting Taiwan between 1995 and 1998 to bring him all the original program tapes. Since the Voice of Taiwan belongs to Taiwan, it must return to Taiwan. We are grateful for Mr. and Mrs. Wu Cheng Shan 's commitment and help; and indebted to Mr. Chang Yen-Hsien(張炎憲), President of the Academia Historica of Taiwan and board member of the Wu San-Lien Foundation For Taiwan Historical Materials, for arranging for the Foundation to formally organize our Voice of Taiwan tapes and release the book on December 10, the anniversary of the Kaohsiung Incident and International Human Rights Day. I have taken this opportunity to record some of these unforgettable memories of my past, and as for the rest, let's leave history to the historians!

 

 

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