Sunday, May 31, 2009

Three's a charm

It's been very productive week, having talked to Su Beng via Skype three times in the past week. The first two times, there were some technical difficulties with the web cam on his end, so we just went on with the call without video. But on the third try, today, we got the video working!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Su Beng or bust

Back in April of 2007, I blogged about Mr. Lin, a sculptor and longtime friend of Su Beng who was working on a bronze bust of Su Beng here. When I was in Taiwan last year (from February to May of 2008), the bronze casting of the bust still hadn't been completed.

I wondered what had happened, so I asked Su Beng during one of our recent Skype conversations. It turns out that the bust was completed in July 2009 and his assistant Bing Hong emailed me this photograph of Su Beng with the finished product.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Stay tuned for the reopening Su Beng's noodle shop

For the past year, Su Beng has been in Tokyo overseeing some much needed renovations on his noodle shop, which he opened in the mid-1950s. This photo of Su Beng's noodle shop, currently closed for business, was taken in March 2009 by Freddy Lim.

It’s been a bit of a financial hardship for Su Beng to have to have had the noodle shop closed for a year. There have been complications and delays due to Japan’s strict building codes. The New Gourmet (新珍味) noodle shop, located near the Ikebukuro train stop, is a historic relic- it was the place where underground operatives from Taiwan were invited to be trained by Su Beng; it was the place that once generated a steady stream of income which Su Beng funneled back through his underground channels to Taiwan, the funds were for activists fighting for Taiwan’s independence. And it was the place where Su Beng wrote both the Japanese language and Chinese language versions of “Taiwan’s 400 Year of History.” It is also where Su Beng lived and worked during most of his over forty years of exile from Taiwan. Now if only the walls of this noodle shop could talk!

I was fortunate enough to have visited the noodle shop in 2005. This is how the noodle shop looked back then:

The noodle shop is located near Tokyo's Ikebukuro train stop, here you can see the address if you'd like to make a visit in the future:

Now that Su Beng has been back in Taiwan for about a month and has returned from the month long march with the Taiwan Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan, I have been able to schedule some Skype calls with him about the biography. Though exhausted, the 92 year old is upbeat and anxious to return to Japan to reopen his noodle shop.

Over the past year, I have increasingly come away from my interviews with Su Beng feeling as though I am mining for precious gems. As Su Beng fills in the details, it is as if I am making all these small, but significant discoveries that will enrich the telling of this man's amazing life.

May 17: Su Beng arrives in Taipei with the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan

The Taiwan Independence Action Motorcade arrives.

Su Beng in one of the Taiwan Independence Action Motorcade "propaganda trucks."

Su Beng talks to television news reporters.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Review of Assembly and Parade Law postponed again

Su Beng at a protest of the Assembly and Parade Law- Taipei, May 5, 2009
What could be more compelling than images of this ninety-something year old activist still getting out there and fighting for what he believes in?

Su Beng speaks at the May 5th protest of the Assembly and Parade Law

David on Formosa sent me these photos he snapped of Su Beng at another protest regarding the Assembly and Parade Law in front of the Legislative Yuan Building in Taipei on May 5th. Why another protest? The vote on the Assembly and Parade Law has been postponed yet again.

Read about it here on the Taipei Times:

Day 12: The Taiwan Independence Action motorcade on the trail of the Alliance of Referendum of Taiwan march

Su Beng's Taiwan Independence Action (獨立台灣會) motorcade in Chiayi (嘉義), Taiwan- on the trail of the month-long march with the Alliance of Referendum of Taiwan. (Photo courtesy of:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Protesting the Assembly and Parade Law

Activists protested the Assembly and Parade Law at the Legislative Yuan Building on April 28, 2009. Su Beng is amongst them front row center in his blue denim shirt. Su Beng rouses the crowd just past the two minute mark in this video.

The assembly law stipulates that people must first obtain a permit from the police precinct where the assembly is to take place. The police at the precinct level therefore have the power to permit or deny all applications for assembly and protest activities, and they are charged with maintaining order during the marches and driving away protesters if things get too rowdy. (Source: Taiwan Journal)

In 2006, Su Beng was charged with violating the Assembly and Parade Law. You can read more about that here:

This anachronistic law has been the subject of much debate in Taiwan lately. On November 6, 2008, the Wild Strawberry student group began protesting the excessive use of force by police against protesters during the visit of Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin, and urging the Ma government to revise the Assembly and Parade Law. The Wild Strawberry student group's requests are that:

1. President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan must publicly apologize to all citizens.

2. National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun and National Security Bureau Director Tsai Chaoming must step down.

3. The Legislative Yuan must revise the Parade and Assembly Law, which currently restricts the rights of the people.

To read their entire protest statement, click here: