壓不扁的台灣菊──勞委會主委陳菊

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2000 / 6月

文‧滕淑芬


有台灣反對運動「民主大姐頭仔」之稱的陳菊,早年飽受苦難、受過風雨洗鍊,一向關懷弱勢團體,信仰人道主義的她,將為全國勞工開創新局。


陳菊是台灣農民的女兒,生長在宜蘭一個看天吃飯的家庭,從來不知政治為何物。民國五十八年,陳菊考上世新,家裡正為她的註冊費和北上生活費煩惱時,一位長輩介紹她去擔任黨外省議員郭雨新的秘書,幫他整理資料以貼補生活費用。想不到這機遇,全然改變陳菊後半生的命運。

因為在郭雨新的辦公室裡長達十年,她結識不少參與反對運動的人士,如雷震、吳三連、余登發、黃信介、康寧祥、張俊宏等人。「美麗島事件」發生前,陳菊就是聯絡這些黨外老中青三代的「超級黨工」。他們除了常聚會交換對政局的觀點,在反對勢力遭壓迫的年代,也辦雜誌批判時政,卻因言賈禍。看到周遭不少人烙印著民主傷痕,淪入牢獄,「我從十九歲就有中年的負擔和沈重,」陳菊在她的著作《黑牢嫁菕n中說。

黨外超級黨工

民國六十七年,陳菊將雷震的回憶錄送往國外刊印,被警總約談十三天後釋放;次年因參與「美麗島事件」,再度被捕並被判刑十二年。

在這生命的低點,她靠著什麼力量渡過?

陳菊說,她和副總統呂秀蓮共同坐牢近五年,「她深研哲學,我則苦讀《資治通鑑》。」此外,一向手拙的她,也在獄中向呂秀蓮學習鉤打毛線和繡花,在呂秀蓮的調教之下,竟然也能鉤打出毛線背心,並且分送給獄外的朋友。爾後呂秀蓮因保外就醫比早她出獄,有一年時間,她一人單獨監禁,沒有講話對象,但相信台灣民主潮流不會被永遠壓迫的信念一直支持著她。

坐了六年牢後她假釋出獄,獄中的苦痛,更加深她對人權的追求。出獄後她擔任台灣人權促進會辦公室主任,也是民進黨的建黨十人小組成員。

七十六年,她應國際特赦組織邀請,到歐美參訪,才知道在自己坐牢的六年中,位於倫敦的國際特赦組織分部不斷寫信給教宗、各國國會議員和國民黨政府,為她請命。這個救援小組同時也寫了一萬多封信給她,並寄給她藥物、維他命等,陳菊說,雖然她一樣東西也沒收到,但對地球那一方竟然有一群人,長期救援一位陌生人的舉動,已深深感動。而這種不分種族國籍的大愛,也影響她以人權作為一生的工作。

八十年底,她南下高雄參選國代,以高票當選,爾後受到當時擔任台北市長的陳水扁邀請,出任社會局長。接受社會局長職務可以說是她後半人生重要的轉捩點,「我半生苦難,為人處事從不做任何強求,原本的生涯規劃是以二屆專業的人權立委作為努力目標,然後淡出政壇,」陳菊說,她原本擔心自己並不適任,但禁不起大家的要求,只好勉力而為。

八十七年,陳水扁競選台北市長連任失利,陳菊也由台北市社會局長轉任高雄市社會局。不到兩年,又在陳水扁總統力邀下,接下行政院勞委會主任委員的重任。一般認為,陳菊的人道信仰,相當符合陳水扁承諾照顧婦女、原住民、身心障礙等弱勢團體的政策。

一流的晚會主持人

陳菊為人豪邁,具有不讓鬚眉的膽識,外界多稱許她具有女俠氣質。常在競選期間接觸民進黨候選人造勢晚會的民眾,對陳菊主持晚會的功力更是印象深刻。

陳菊聲音宏亮、丹田中氣十足、台語道地,主持造勢晚會忽而激揚、忽而悲傷,豐富的肢體語言及幽默的串場,經常成功營造感人氣氛,絲絲緊扣支持者的心。民進黨候選人若能請到她站台,往往都能成功拉抬候選人的聲勢。

問到陳菊如何成功主持造勢晚會?她只自謙的說,候選人要有自己的條件,否則她再會講,也無濟於事。

在反對陣營成長的陳菊,一直認為自己理論基礎不夠,在台北市社會局長任內,她就利用晚上時間到世新大學學分班進修社會發展方面的課程。她說,當同齡女性正在唸書時,她卻時時刻刻擔心受害,後來又坐牢六年多,喪失了許多唸書機會,進修只是為了實踐年輕時未完成的夢。

接下勞委會工作時,有朋友對她說,勞委會主委要與資方溝通,壓力不小,不是容易討好的工作。但「自己一生很少作討好的工作,只堅持作正確的事,」陳菊說。

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EN

Council of Labor Affairs ChairwomanChen Chu

Teng Sue-feng /tr. by Robert Taylor

Chen Chu, known in Taiwan's opposi-tion movement as "Big Sister Democracy," suffered many hardships and weathered many storms as a young woman. Always concerned for the disadvantaged, and an advocate of humanitarian values, she is set to create a new situation for labor throughout Taiwan.


The daughter of a Taiwanese farmer, Chen Chu grew up in Ilan County in a family which depended on the soil and the weather for its livelihood, and as a child she was completely oblivious to politics. In 1969, she passed the college entrance exam and gained a place at the World College of Journalism (now Shih Hsin University). Just as her family was worrying about her registration fees and her living expenses at the college in suburban Taipei, an elder gave her an introduction to go and work for non-KMT provincial assembly member Kuo Yu-hsin as a secretary and research assistant, to earn some money to help with her living expenses. But this chance opportunity completely changed the course of Chen Chu's life.

Working in Kuo Yu-hsin's office for ten years, she got to know many people involved in the opposition movement, such as Lei Chen, Wu San-lien, Yu Teng-fa, Huang Hsin-chieh, Kang Ning-hsiang and Chang Chun-hung. Before the Kaohsiung Incident, Chen Chu was known as a "super party worker" who liaised among these three generations of dangwai. As well as often meeting to exchange views on the political situation, the dangwai activists also published magazines criticizing the government policies of the day. In that era when opposition forces were suppressed, this got them into trouble. Seeing many people around her bearing the scars of the fight for democracy and being imprisoned, "from the age of 19 I had the cares and solemnity of a person in middle age," wrote Chen Chu in her autobiography.

Super dangwai worker

In 1978, after Chen took historical materials compiled by Lei Chen overseas to be published, she was held for questioning for 13 days by the Taiwan Garrison Command before being released; the following year, she was arrested again and sentenced to 12 years in prison for involvement in the Kaohsiung Incident.

What strength did she rely on to see her through this low point in her life?

Chen Chu says that she spent almost five years of her incarceration in the same prison as new vice-president Annette Lu. "She studied philosophy, while I assiduously read [the Song dynasty historiographical work] The Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government." Also, although Chen had never been good with her hands, in prison she learned knitting and embroidery from Annette Lu, and under Lu's instruction actually succeeded in knitting several sleeveless woolen cardigans which she gave as presents to friends on the outside. Later, because Annette Lu was released before her on medical parole, Chen Chu spent a year in her cell alone, without anyone to talk to. But her firm belief that the democracy movement in Taiwan could not be suppressed forever sustained her through this time.

After six years in jail Chen Chu was released, but her suffering in prison had only further deepened her determination to promote human rights. After her release she became office director for the Taiwan Association for the Promotion of Human Rights, and was one of the group of ten who led the founding of the Democratic Progressive Party.

In 1987, she traveled to Europe and America at the invitation of Amnesty International (AI). It was only then that she learned that during her six years' imprisonment, AI's London chapter had been constantly writing to the Pope, parliamentarians in various countries and the KMT government in Taiwan, calling for her release. The group had also written over 10,000 letters to Chen Chu herself, and had sent her medicines, vitamins and so on. Chen said that although she had never received any of these things, she was deeply moved that there should be such a group of people on the other side of the world who would work for so long to save a complete stranger. This love which transcends race and nationality was part of what motivated her to make the pursuit of human rights her life's work.

In late 1991, she successfully stood for election as a National Assembly member for the southern city of Kaohsiung. A few years later, at the invitation of then Taipei City mayor Chen Shui-bian, she became director of the city's Bureau of Social Affairs. Accepting this appointment was another important turning point in Chen Chu's life. "I've been through a lot of hardship in my life, and I've never had any great ambitions for myself. My next goal had been to stand for the Legislative Yuan and serve two terms as a legislator specializing in human rights, and then to get out of politics," says Chen. At first she worried that she was not suited to the job Chen offered, but feeling unable to disappoint the many people who urged her to accept the appointment, she decided to give it her best shot.

In 1998, when Chen Shui-bian failed to gain re-election as Taipei City mayor, Chen Chu left the Taipei City Government and became director of the Bureau of Social Affairs in Kaohsiung City. But less than two years later, at the strenuous invitation of President Chen Shui-bian, she accepted the post of chairwoman of the Executive Yuan's Council of Labor Affairs. Chen Chu's humanitarian beliefs are widely seen as being very much in keeping with Chen Shui-bian's promise to take care of disadvantaged groups such as women, aboriginals and the physically and mentally handicapped.

A first-class emcee

Chen Chu has a bold and straightforward character and unflinching courage, and has often been described as having the spirit of a woman warrior. But members of the public who have often seen her at campaign rallies for DPP candidates at election time have an even deeper impression of her talent for hosting such events.

Chen Chu has a clear, powerful voice which projects well, and speaks authentic Taiwanese. When hosting a campaign event she is by turns enthusiastic or sad, and her expressive body language and humorous segues between speakers usually succeed in creating an inspiring atmosphere which wins supporters' hearts. If DPP candidates can get her on stage with them, it generally gives a boost to their campaign.

When asked the secret of her success, Chen Chu simply says modestly that candidates have to be up to the job themselves, otherwise no matter how well she speaks it will be of no help.

Coming of age through the day-to-day tasks of opposition politics, Chen Chu has always felt that her own grasp of theory is inadequate, and in her tenure as director of Taipei City's Bureau of Social Affairs, she used her evenings to take courses in social development at Shih Hsin University. She says that when other women her age were at university she was in constant fear of persecution, and later during her six years in jail she lost many opportunities for study. In pursuing further studies, she was only fulfilling an unrealized dream of her youth.

When she accepted the post of chairwoman of the Council of Labor Affairs, friends told her that the CLA chairperson had to engage in dialogue with employers, and that it was a highly stressful job in which one could not easily win favor. But, says Chen Chu, "I've rarely tried to ingratiate myself with anyone during my working life-I've only insisted on doing the right thing."

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