Due to the overwhelming popularity of our bloggence on Hot Women of India: A Pictorial Review, we're winding up Women's Month with a new Taiwanese version. This time instead of intellectuals, the spotlight is on women who are famous in Taiwan for three different reasons.
If you live in Taiwan, none of these women will be very surprising, and in fact they're so famously visible that you might be tired of seeing them. But the rest of the world has never heard of them, so . . .
1. Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) is Taiwan's Vice President, elected twice.
The last century cannot boast of many female vice presidents. The U.S. for instance has never yet had one. Moreover Annette Lu is bluntly outspoken. A few years ago she upset the Party in Beijing by saying the obvious during a TV interveiw. In reaction, they called her a "lunatic" and the "scum of the nation". I'm not sure if this means that they won the argument? (She's pro-independence and pro-democracy.) Back in the '70s Lu abandoned her PhD studies in Harvard Law School in order to run back to Taiwan during a period of intense pro-democracy activism. In reaction, the KMT government back then sent her to prison for 5 years. She was released for medical reasons, survived a bout with cancer, and then went on to help establish the very first peaceful transfer of political power from one party to another in the history of Taiwan and China both. Last year she survived with a minor knee injury from a bullet fragment during an assassination attempt on President Chen Shui-bian. An outspoken woman in Taiwan makes them nervous. Many Taiwanese from the retrograde bourgeoisie hate her just as much as the Mainland Bosses do. So she must be doing something quite progressive. While Annette Lu does indeed sometimes say things that lack diplomacy and good sense, still most Taiwanese realize that they owe her a very great debt for their democracy.
For more about Annette Lu's unsinkable controversial daily job, see: http://www.gluckman.com/Lu.html
2. Young musical pop star, Chang Hui-Mei, (張惠妹) usually just called A-Mei hails from an aboriginal tribe in Taiwan, the Puyuma people on the rural southeast coast. More than just another pretty face, and more than a pop singer who can actually sing (uncommon in Taiwan), A-mei stirred up controversy when she cancelled a concert in Mainland China after people there protested her support of Taiwanese independence. A-Mei was also blacklisted and banned by the Mainland Bosses for singing the anthem of Taiwan. She has since then tried to make nice again, no doubt with sponsor Coke-Cola's urging.
You can read more about her pop capers at:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3802859.stm And an interesting look at A-Mei in the context of her Puyuma tribal origin at http://reviews.media-culture.org.au/sounds/amei.html
3. Master Cheng Yen (證嚴法師) is the founder of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, with four million members internationally. It is the world's largest and most successful Buddhist social work organization. She is the most famous Buddhist "nun" in a country that has a lot of them.
Dharma Master Cheng Yen's foundation has established hospitals, universities, schools, and provides humanitarian aid both in Taiwan and abroad for the international community since 1966. Her disaster relief programs have reached people in all corners of the world. In doing so she helped to change the tradition of Buddhism from one of solitary withdrawal to social action. She gives Buddhist sermons on TV every week.
You can read more about Tzu Chi Foundation and Master Cheng Yen at:
This post brings International Women's Month to its inevitable closure. We'll miss them! (Actually I doubt that they're all going very far away. They all seem to be hanging around stirring up controversy and solving problems.)