Family Calls for Taiwanese Scientist's Release

June 6, 2006

Dr. Shieh’s financial records were seized and his apartment searched, and while investigators have found no evidence of wrongdoing, Dr. Shieh -- in what appears to be a complete disregard for civil and human rights to those of us, including his family, in the United States -- remains in custody without bail, apparently in a cell that does not even have a bed.

At issue is an NT $8.05 billion (U.S. $200 million) contract to reduce railway vibrations around a science park where high-tech firms building semiconductors and such cannot tolerate excessive vibrations. The problem has plagued the government for nearly a decade now, and in fact former ministers have previously resigned in disgrace due to its failures. Dr. Shieh, who has been NSC deputy minister since 2000, took on this controversial project because he knew it simply had to succeed.

It appears that all suspicions regarding Dr. Shieh -- that he helped steer awarding of the contract for personal gain -- are the result of hearsay, a reckless media and a government in chaos that is looking for scapegoats. That volatility has come to a head in just the past few days with President Chen Shui-bian relinquishing many of his duties to his premier in light of a scandal involving Chen’s son-in-law.

Dr. Shieh, meanwhile, waits in his cell, forgotten except by his family and his friends.

Dr. Shieh, who received his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan, is a lot like many of our own parents who came to the United States in the `60s and `70s seeking a better education and a better life for their yet-unborn children. Also like my own father, Dr. Shieh eventually returned to Taiwan and was instrumental -- through his expertise in science and technology -- in helping his homeland emerge as a new leader among small industrial nations.

Prosecutors have been suspiciously tightlipped in their investigation of Dr. Shieh, and have yet to file formal charges of any kind. While reports of Dr. Shieh’s detainment -- that he is forced to sleep on the floor, and that he is not allowed to wear his own clothes -- are unsubstantiated in English-language news media, we have been given no reason to doubt these claims.

Among the few Taiwan-based news reports that are freely available in English is a May 25 China Post article that seems as in the dark as Shieh’s family in the United States. It reads like a regurgitated government statement, affording no comment from Shieh’s legal counsel, family or supporters, and in fact lending a megaphone to an opposition Kuomintang Party official who suggests that the current administration – the Democratic Progressive Party that appointed Dr. Shieh -- is "rotten."

Dr. Shieh’s daughter Rosalyne, who lives in Princeton, N.J., and is a dear friend of mine, has told me that her family is allowed "no contact with my father whatsoever." She has asked Amnesty International to monitor the situation, and is launching a grassroots campaign to show, at the very least, that the Taiwanese government is being watched.

Meanwhile, Rosalyne’s brother, a UCLA neurologist, and her mother in Fountain Valley, Calif., have gained some support from American news media such as the Orange County Register, and they are now urging their peers, particularly Asian Americans who still have family abroad, to write their representatives in U.S. Congress to remind Taiwan that the eerily familiar tactics in Dr. Shieh’s detainment are backward steps in an already fragile democracy.

My intention here is not to argue Dr. Shieh’s innocence, but simply to demand that he be afforded due process; that this lifelong servant of science -- and devoted father and husband -- not be held without bail like a dangerous criminal unless evidence and formal charges are brought against his case.

For more information or to find out how to help, please visit or e-mail supportching [at]

Calvin Liu is an editor for the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, CA, and a former editor for AsianWeek. He contributed to Hyphen issue #6.


Momo Chang

Senior Contributing Editor

Momo Chang is the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media, and freelances for magazines, online publications, and weeklies. Her writings focus on Asian American communities, communities of color, and youth culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Her stories range from uncovering working conditions in nail salons, to stories about “invisible minorities” like Tongan youth and Iu Mien farmers. She has freelances The New York Times, WIRED, and East Bay Express, among other publications.



calvin,it's been two more weeks since i wrote last. my father has been in the tainan detention center for 26 days now and we have no idea when we will be allowed to see him. i'm writing because yesterday was father's day. usually father's day isn't such a big deal, each of us just gives dad a call and says hello, to tell him that we love him and to let him know that we are doing well and haven't forgotten him. but last night i couldn't sleep at all.maybe 15 years ago my father gave me a book to read. it is call 'Ramona' by Helen Hunt Jackson--a book in the same genre of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' telling me that it was a very good book and that i should read it. i didn't. i was stubborn. but out of love for my father, i have packed it up each time i have moved over the last 12 years. it went with me from orange county to berkeley, then berkeley to new york, from new york to london, and now london to princeton. finally i read it this weekend.i don't have much to say about the book right now, but i feel i'm grasping for my father in any way i can and i have no way to touch him or talk to him. my father is 65 years old this year. every day is precious.prohibiting our family from meeting or communicating is a kind of mistreatment. he still has not been charged. i don't believe they've disclosed any reasons why they should be holding him. they don't seem to have found any evidence. this treatment of him is akin to a kind of torture. they are holding hime, depriving him of his normal life, denying any contact with those who love and care about him, of any familiar companionship...all under pure speculation and in order to induce some sort of confession or utterance of information that might lead them to find what they have already decided must exist...despite no findings that substantiate their father gave up his job, left his family behind in the states and gave up his american citizenship because he wanted to go 'home' and help the country he loved to develop itself scientifically. on the day that he left in june of 1999, i remember, he held me and had tears in his eyes. every so often, like when i lost confidence in myself while in college, or was unhappy working in new york, he would sigh and tell me 'sorry.' he told me, 'maybe i have been away when you needed me most.' he would tell me how guilty he felt, that my feelings of doubt or unhappiness were his fault--because he wasn't there for me. it always moved me, but i would never let him believe that. it was just that i was going through the phase of learning to be there for myself--just that it seemed to take longer for me than the average person!i believe that he went to taiwan because he felt that he could help taiwan grow and become stronger and more confident. he did this because he felt taiwan was a good place with good people who had something to contribute to the rest of the world. i never met anyone with more tenderness for other human beings and the places of his home, his family and those he loved.i think that some may now think twice before returning to think twice before thinking to take his/her experiences that they have gathered abroad back home. what has happened to my father is terrifying to me. there is no reason here. there is no compassion. it is not about him at all. it is about politics and greed and i fear that people are missing the point is callous to cause others to suffer to further one's own interests. you should deal with others with care and thoughtfulness rather than with suspicion and hate. this is something my father has shown me throughout my life.happy fathers' day.rosalyne
RALLY this SATURDAY, july 1, in Los Angelesplease join us at a rally for my father, this saturday, details below:location: Taiwanese Consulate in LAaddress: 3001 Walnut Grove Ave, Rosemead, CA 91770when: Saturday, July 1, 4pm
There is not much that can be done on this side of the Pacific. Americans in Taiwan are not afforded constitutional or civil rights in the Republic of China. Prolonged detainment without being charged or tried is very common in cases involving overseas Chinese or foreigners. Martial law still exists on Taiwan. Martial law still exist on Taiwan.
Calvin: Thank you for writing about Dr. Shieh and for your appeal for due process in his case. I hope that others will read and take action - write to their congressional rep's and the media to ask for his fair and just treatment.
My dad has been released after 59 days of extra-judicial detention, remaining incommunicado to the end. Thanks to everyone who wrote letters, asked questions and followed this case. We are relieved and very grateful to have him back, but the work has just begun. Now that he is out, we need to work to make sure that what has happened to him can serve to benefit others in similar situations in Taiwan and over the globe...and we are working to combat the groundless attacks that have been made on my father's character. My father says that he met others in the detention center who'd been there for more than 50 days and hadn't been brought out for questioning even once...and furthermore, did not know the status of their own case. This is a serious problem, and most people lack advocates to bring their cases into the public eye. I urge anyone interested to continue to follow this at and contact us if they would like to join our project...or if they have any advice, of course.My father has still not been charged and he cannot leave Taiwan as the investigation is ongoing. Right now he is trying to grasp all that has passed in the last two months as well as get on with his life by finding a new job so that he can regain some sort of normalcy while he continues to deal with this situation. But he is in good spirits and sees his experience as having the potential to contribute to the greater good of human and civil rights for Taiwan.
Calvin,I just wanted to say thank you. It is now 14 days that we have had no contact with him. It isn't right that the he is denied communication with his family. I know he is also not allowed to read any time-dated material (e.g. newspapers, periodicals) and only allowed outside his cell for a 20 minute walk each morning. This is all information that we get through his lawyer who has seen him twice in 14 days.We have heard from a lot of people who support my father and I just hope that we can get him out and clear his name as he has always acted with the utmost integrity and set the highest example for my brother and I. I know he is honest and innocent. I have always known him as kind and goodhearted. The day that he was to go from Taipei to Tainan for questioning, he reassured my mother that he would be back by evening. He said 'I did nothing wrong, they won't keep me. They just want to ask some questions.' Well, from what we have read in the papers, he was questioned for 10 hours until 2 o'clock in the morning...and we haven't heard from him since. And we don't know when we will.Please see our discussion forum for updates: to you soon,'s a great thing my parents sent me to Taiwanese camp so that I would end up with such great and supportive (and talented!) friends...xxRosalyne
Calvin,I'd also like to thank you for starting this blog in support of Dr. Ching Shieh. It is important to raise awareness about his situation and the injustice that is currently taking place by detaining him without any formal charges or evidence of any wrongdoing. I know Dr. Shieh as person of exceptional integrity, character, and humility that would never engage in the type of activities that he currently being accused of.My only hope is that news of this that news of case will reach a larger audience and that the demands for a fair trial and investigation will be met. Dr. Shieh deserves to be treated with respect. There is no reason that he should be kept of contact with his friends and family. I encourage everyone to voice his or her support.