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Hundreds gather to meet Australian 'greatest lover of Taiwan'

2018/11/13 21:35:10

Bruce Jacobs

Taipei, Nov. 13 (CNA) Hundreds of people attended a thank-you reception in Taipei Tuesday for Bruce Jacobs, a professor emeritus at Australia's Monash University and a specialist in Taiwan politics, to express their deep gratitude for his love and longterm support for Taiwan.

"He is the greatest lover of Taiwan," Michael Kau (高英茂), a former vice foreign minister, said in an address on the occasion. "There are many scholars in the world, but there aren't many who really care about Taiwan and have deep affection for Taiwan."

Jacobs is "the greatest scholar on Taiwan studies," according to Kau, because he has not only engaged in fieldwork about Taiwan but also has often presented his visions for Taiwan based on his interdisciplinary research involving humanity, social science, politics and culture.

Jacobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year but arrived in Taiwan last week for a visit. He delivered a speech Nov. 9 at the Australian Office in Taipei.

The reception, hosted by Dr. Chen Wen-chen (陳文成)Memorial Foundation and Museum, attracted people mostly from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), academia, think tanks and pro-localization groups.

Jacobs first arrived in Taiwan as a postgraduate student in history at National Taiwan University in the 1960s. He conducted his Columbia University PhD research in rural Taiwan between 1971 and 1973.

He was falsely implicated in the murder of former DPP Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung's (林義雄) mother and twin daughters Feb. 28, 1980, for which he was detained for three months and blacklisted by the then-ruling Kuomintang (KMT) from entering Taiwan for 12 years.

During Jacobs' current visit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will confer a medal on Jacobs as a token of appreciation for his dedication to Taiwan, according to Maysing Yang (楊黃美幸), head of the Chen Wen-chen foundation.

"One of the delights of my time in Taiwan is getting to know Bruce," said William Stanton, a former director of the American Institute in Taiwan who now teaches at National Taiwan University's International College following his retirement from the foreign service.

Jacobs has published numerous works on Taiwan and has "added immeasurably to our understanding of Taiwan, its roots and its importance," Stanton said.

He commended Jacobs for his support for democracy, human rights, truth, and giving a voice to the underdogs and people who have no voice.

"I admire him for that and I am honored to have a friend like that," the former AIT director said.

"On behalf of everyone here in Taiwan, I want to thank you for all you've done. You have been a wonderful friend, not only to Taiwan, but to me," Stanton said.

At the reception, Jacobs delivered a speech about the history of Taiwan, and noted that his team has been working on a Mandarin Chinese version of the book "The Kaohsiung Incident in Taiwan and Memoirs of a Foreign Big Beard," expected to be published next year.

In the book, Jacobs analyzes the precursors to the Kaohsiung Incident of 1979 that ultimately contributed to Taiwan's democratization and writes his memoir of that period.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)