By Dan Bloom, Chaiyi, Taiwan
Special to Janus blog
TAIPEI -- A newspaper in Oregon has applauded the work of a former Methodist missionary in Taiwan during the 1960s who played a key role in secreting Peng Ming-min out of the country to Sweden in 1970.
The Bend Bulletin in Oregon profiled former missionary professor Milo Thornberry last Saturday, saying he aided Taiwan in the "fight for liberty in Taiwan in 1960s, 1970s."
Reporter Heidi Hagemeier reported that Thornberry and his then-wife Judith Thomas participated in experiences "worthy of a spy thriller: smuggling cash to families of political prisoners, slipping victim names to Amnesty International, and orchestrating the escape of an internationally known scholar and democracy activist."
The newspaper noted that "change has come to the island [nation] where he risked so much as a missionary in the late 1960s and early 1970s, [and now] Thornberry [is] free to tell his tale, he said he feels it's an obligation."
When asked why he was going public with his story now in an English-language memoir published in the U.S. last month, Thornberry told The Bulletin:
"I'd like for Americans to know a little bit more about this history. My role is only a couple of sentences in this struggle in Taiwan."Deported as "terrorists" in 1979, Thornberry and his ex-wife did not return to Taiwan until 2003, when they and others were honored their contributions to Taiwan.
"That meant a lot to me,” Thornberry told the Bulletin, his voice cracking with emotion.
The newspaper also interviewed Taiwanese journalist and historian James Wang, who told the Bulletin:
"Milo is really a low-key person. When we [first met], he didn't reveal how he helped Peng escape from Taiwan. When I found out, I said, 'You have to write about this.'"While Thornberry's book is currently available only in English, he told the Bulletin that he is in talks with a book company in Taipei, which is interested in releasing it here in a Chinese-language edition. Interminds Publishing, which published Peng's memoir in 2009, is among those publishers in Taiwan interested in the translation rights to Thornberry's book, according to sources.
Wang told The Bulletin that he hopes the book will reach Taiwanese readers:
"[The KMT] would rather not have it published .... in Taiwan. They don't want the younger generation to read it. But it's an important page in Taiwan's political history. We should know this and we should appreciate Milo's help.”