Monday, November 29, 2010

College Entrance Examinations

Since there was a shortage of space in the universities in Taiwan during 1953 and the following years, the Ministry of Education in Taiwan started a new system which required all universities on the island to give one unified exam. Students with high grades got the choice of their Department in a particular university. Students with lower grades would be assigned to their second or third choices, etc. In this way all positions would be filled at the end. All high school students usually graduated in June, then they could all take one exam in July. By August the grades would be published and the distribution of students to positions would follow immediately until every position was filled. In September, all new college students would start their classes in the Universities of their choice, according to the order of their choice on their application forms. Generally good University Departments were filled first with the higher grade students.

After the excitement of the 5-24 incident, students quickly returned to a serious mood - especially graduates who were worrying about their preparation for the entrance exams and their decision about the order of choices. There were three major exams, one for physical sciences (which included engineering, sciences, and medicine), a second one for literature (languages, arts and music, history, philosophy, library science, and social sciences) and a third category which included agricultural fields (such as anything related to plants, animals etc). Each category had a set of six subjects for testing. A maximum of 600 points could be achieved. In 1957, if your total was above 300, you could enter National Taiwan University, which was what the majority of students wanted during that time. When the exam time came, it took two days to complete the six subjects. There were two hours allocated for each subject with some rest time in between. It was a two-whole day affair. Janice went to see the battlefield in 1969 when we visited Taiwan. She identified that as the main reason she did not want to consider the jobs offered to us in Taiwan, since she did not want our children to suffer through the examination process! While I was trying to prepare for the exam in 1957, just before the end of June, I was called by the FBI equivalent organization in Taiwan for an "interview". Everyone in the family was scared. It turned out that they were interested in having me identify all the people I knew who appeared in the parade during the 5-24 incident. There were pictures and movie films of all the events. I went there twice to see all the records and identified everyone I could recognize. That took my precious time, needed for study!

My entrance exams came and went like dreams, in July 1957. No details could be recalled today! Somehow in August, there was a co-worker of Father who worked in the distribution center for making sure the details of assigning students to the right department with proper grades was done properly. He came to tell us that I was assigned to the Chemistry Department of National Taiwan University. That was how my destiny was sealed!

Friday, November 26, 2010


The 5-24 incident involving the American GI changed everything. It made our High School graduation one month later seem "unimportant". Other events also crept into our busy schedule during that last month of high school, making the graduation ceremony seem even more unimportant. Our attention was not at all focused on the formality of leaving High School. It is one event I do not remember at all. There were just too many other things to worry about, such as who would be able to enter college without taking the entrance examination. A very small number of students were allowed to enter certain colleges when a particular high school had a certain number of students who passed the entrance examination the year before. This was done to reward the high school who had more students passing the entrance exams. I was awarded to enter Cheng-Kung University, which was in Tainan, without taking the entrance exam. I was told that I had to make the decision right away so that the position could be given to someone else if I chose not to take it. Since Cheng-Kung University was a second rate university during that time, and it was not in Taipei so the expense would be higher, I made a quick decision to give up the "direct entrance" position and take the chance on passing the entrance exam so that I could enter National Taiwan University. Incidentally, there was a graduation exam too, but we all assumed that we were going to pass, no one paid much attention to it!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

When US GIs Are Stationed in a Foreign Land

US GIs are everywhere in the world. It sounds romantic and adventurous for the GIs. Maybe that is true, but it actually makes for a very complicated relationship between the countries involved. Here today I am going to take a second look from another angle at the case of American Corporal Robert Reynolds, who killed the Chinese Colonel Liu. The story floated out during the time of the incident was that they knew each other, that they were actually business partners. Their business was to use Reynolds' privilege to buy expensive goods from the PX, tax free, and then use Liu's connection to sell them outside on the Chinese black market. The problem was that the profits division was not to the liking of all sides involved. Neither government wanted the truth to come out; the case was then easily bungled. This is just one simple example of the kind of conflict which can occur when US GIs are stationed in a foreign land. These conflicts erupt all over the world where ever the US military is involved in situations besides their main purpose of engagement. The US should have learned by now!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Robert G. Reynolds Incident

The Sgt Robert G Reynolds Incident occurred on March 20th, 1957. It was called in Chinese the Liu Zi-Run Incident (刘自然事件). The official story was quite simple. Sgt Reynolds killed Mr. Liu in the front of his yard sometime after 11pm. Reynolds said that Liu was watching his wife taking a bath, so he went out to check. Liu had an iron stick in his hand, so Reynolds fired his pistol and killed Liu. On the 23rd, in May, 1957, the US military court announced that Reynolds was innocent because of the lack of evidence. The US military flew Sgt. Reynolds home immediately. On the 24th, crowds gathered in front of the US Embassy. Liu's wife, who had come to the US Embassy compound to complain and who had been kept outside the door for three days, was crying and complaining about the injustice of the whole affair. By 2pm the general mob outside the door was so agitated that they started to throw rocks and glass and they finally broke the outside door and ransacked the building. The US Embassy US Information Office Building was destroyed in no time. It turned out that Liu was a colonel in the Chinese Army. Reynolds and Liu knew each other; they might even have had some business together. Neither government would admit any fact about their relationship. Chiang's government was forced to apologize in the end for the breakage of the Embassy Compound US Information Building, a situation which made him a laughing stock in the world as a US "running dog"!

The morning of the 24th accidently, was a day to test the City-wide alarm system. At 8am, the sirens were loudly testing everywhere in Taipei City. All traffic was temporarily stopped; the first class at school was also postponed. My classmates were all talking about how unfair the decision was about letting the American go free and shipping him out immediately. As the student government president, I called the whole student body out to the field to report the recent news to them. We all decided that we must go out to do some demonstration. With the encouragement from teachers, especially one English teacher, see picture below, we decided that we would go out to make a statement that afternoon in front of American Embassy. While the students were making their preparations, such as making English signs and preparing the routes, I was called to the President's Office. The president wanted me to represent the School at a meeting of the "Saving the Country" group, which had been organized as a semi-official response. When I got to the meeting, I found out that the Embassy was already surrounded with plenty of demonstrators. Thus the meeting was cancelled. Clearly, they would not want to repeat the efforts which had already resulted in the desired result. When I got back to School, a group of Cheng-Kong students had already climbed the wall and gone out to demonstrate. I was locked in the president's office for the rest of that day.

More than one hundred people were arrested during this 5/24 Incident; three people were killed and 40 people put in jail.

  American Embassy Information Services in Taipei was totally ransacked.

 Some cars were turned over.

 Cheng-Kung students!?

 I know that our Cheng-Kung students did not make this sign.

 Mr. Lu Yue, the English teacher who translated all the signs into right English for students demonstrators!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Backyard Pictures

From 1955 to 1957, I had a modified camera, which was a used (and sort of broken) one. I cleaned it and fixed the mechanism. So we took quite a few pictures, some of them in our backyard. Our backyard was a run-down Japanese style garden! It was run-down because no one in our family knew how to care for a garden and we certainly had no time for such activities anyway. The pond, which had no fish but plenty of frogs, was surrounded by azaleas with many fruit trees in the background. My room was in the back, not far from the pond. It was often used as part of the background. I will show you a few of the pictures taken there in this post:




Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sun-Yat-Sen Hall Concert

During the Warring States period (Sha Dynasty), around 2,300 years ago, the people who lived along the banks of the Min River were plagued by annual flooding. Qin governor Li Bing (李冰) investigated the problem and discovered that the river was swelled by the fast flowing spring melt-water from the local mountains that burst the banks when it reached the slow moving and heavily silted stretch below. He proposed to construct an artificial levee to redirect a portion of the river's flow and then to cut a channel through Mount Yulei to discharge the excess water upon the dry Chengdu Plain and beyond he started the work and spent 9 years for the initial phase of the project. His son Yue(大禹) followed him to work on the project for a total of more than thirteen more years .During this long period, he passed his home three times, but he was so much devoted to his work, he did not enter his home even once. This story was written as a chorus. It was called "The Taming of Flood by Big Yue" (大禹治水) Unfortunately, I no longer could find any one on the web posted the song in some fashion. Since this chorus was written for four parts mixed voices, we had to negotiate to sing this chorus with a girls' school. Everyone was very excited. Girls! girls! Suddenly the chorale group became very popular!

With the help of our music teacher, we made the choice, and got an agreement with Taipei Girls Normal School. They had a chorale group just about the same size and the school was not very far and we needed to make arrangement to rehearse together before the concert. Because of the complicated logistic arrangement, we finally decided to have only two rehearsals together, one at girls school and one at our school. Chen I-Chun and I were the soloists from Cheng-Kong, Huang Ming-show (黄明秀) was the soloist fron Normal School. The conductor was the teacher from Normal School, Mr. Yang Ron-kuan (陽永光).

The concert was finally sung at Sun Yat-Sen Hall in Downtown, Taipei on Jan. 10th, 1957. The Hall has the largest capacity at that time and it was the most famous auditorium on the island. We had a crowd nearly filled the hall. It seems that everyone very happy. It was certainly one of my proudest moments in my life.