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History

At the west of Dawu Mountain, the southern border

The name “Pingtung” first appeared during the Japanese rule. Taiwan Governor-General Office, acting on behalf of the Japanese government, annexed the 12 cho into 5 shu and 2 cho. At that time, Pingtung appeared in the historical and administrative documents as “Pingtung County, Kaohsiung State” (Heitō District, Takao Prefecture).

The administrative region of Pingtung Prefecture covered the area of northern Pingtung nowadays, including Pingtung City and Changjhih Township, Yenpu Township, Jiuru Township, Ligang Township, and Gaoshu Township in northern Pingtung area. It also included 2 indigenous townships—Sandimen and Wutai Township.

Regarding the origin of the name “Pingtung,” it is generally believed to be coming from “Pingtung College,” established during Emperor Jiacing in the Qing Dynasty. The initials of the couplets hung in front of the college’s door were “ping” and “tung” (Note 1).

Retracing the history from the administrative region of Pingtung County now, the 4 counties administered under Kaohsiung State covered the entire terrain of current Pingtung County. The four counties were Pingtung County in the north of Pingtung, Donggang and Chaojhou in central Pingtung, and Hengchun County in southern Pingtung.

In 1950, the next year after the Nationalist Government moved to Taiwan, Pingtung County was established, i.e. the current Pingtung County.

In the north and west, Pingtung is situated next to Kaohsiung City with Kaoping River as border. In the east, it was Dawu Mountain, with Donggang River flowing through the Pingtung Plain into the Taiwan Strait, facing China. Meanwhile, Hengchung Peninsular is located in the south of the county, facing Bashi Channel. As for Manjhou Township, in the east of the county, it borders on the Pacific Ocean.

In Taiwan, there is no single city that is as diverse as Pintung in the aspects of geology, ecology, and ethnicity. Nor is there a county that contains one of the 5 tallest mountains in Taiwan – Dawu Mountain, the extensive Pingtung Plain, and Hengchun Peninsular – a place of biodiversity within its borders.

With genius loci, it cultivates talented and genius people. No wonder it occupied an important position in the democratic movement in Taiwan in the early times. It must be closely connected with the overall natural and humanistic environment.

Before 1986, the establishment of Democratic Progressive Party, the first democratic party in Taiwan, all the magistrates and mayors of regional governments were dominated by the Kuomintang. Pingtung was no exception. Jhang Shan-jhong, the first County Magistrate of Pingtung, was a member of Kuomintang. The Kuomintang’s regime lasted until Ke Wen-fu, the 8th County Magistrate of Pingtung. From Chang Chung-shan to Ke Wen-fu, the duration of the Kuomintang’s one-party rule was as long as the time span for the White Terror, which started from the 228 Incident in 1947 (Note 2).

It was not until Chiu Lian-huei, a non-party candidate, was successfully elected as the 9th County Magistrate in 1981, with the dual support of the people and the democratic forces outside the party, that the Kuomintang ended its one-party rule in Pingtung. As the first non-Kuomintang County Magistrate, Chiu’s success was a landmark of democracy in the county.

Since the inauguration of Su Tseng-chang, the first magistrate from the Democratic Progressive Party, it paved the way to the DDP’s long-term rule in Pingtung County since then (Note 3). After Su, the magistrates of Pingtung were Su Chia-chyuan, Cao Ci- hong, and Pan Meng-An, the current magistrate. Since Su Chia-chyuan, the 13th Magistrate of Pingtung, the candidates of the Kuomintang have failed in the elections for magistrate in the county.

At the foothills of Dawu Mountain, racial integration has been making progress, and its industries remain promising. The same Pingtung will go a different way!

 
 

Note 1: The couplets of Pingtung College read “Ping lin Da Wu/Dong shu feng sheng” (Neighboring to Dawu Mountain/Wing chimes the trees in the east), according to Pingtung County Annals, 2014.

Note 2: For details of Pingtung’s past magistrates, please consult Pingtung County Annals, 2014.

Note 3: From Magistrate Su Tseng-chang to Magistrate Pan Meng-an now, there was only one magistrate from the Kuomintang – Wu Ze Yuan. All others were from the Democratic Progressive Party.