Senate debates

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Statements by Senators

Chiou Chwei-liang, Professor

12:45 pm

Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It gives me great honour to rise in this chamber this afternoon to pay tribute to Professor Chiou Chwei-liang, affectionately known as LG, who passed away on 13 March 2021 at the age of 84. Professor Chiou was a deeply respected and highly regarded leader in the Australian Taiwanese community who provided outstanding service both to the people of Australia and to the people of Taiwan. I note the presence in the gallery of members of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia, including deputy representative Mr Ken Lai, officer Ms Kristy Cheng and officer Mr Vincent Wang, and I sincerely thank them for their presence in the chamber today.

Professor Chiou was born in Taiwan in 1938. After graduating from the National Taiwan University, he continued his studies in the United States, obtaining a doctorate in 1971. He then chose to make a life for himself and his family in Australia and became naturalised in 1974. During the course of his life, he made three outstanding contributions to both Australia and Taiwan—first, in the area of education. For over 40 years, he served in the faculty of political science at the University of Queensland, my alma mater, with great distinction and great honour. He inspired countless students at the University of Queensland who have gone on to take positions of great responsibility in our nation. This was reinforced to me when I attended the Double Ten Day Taiwanese celebration dinner in 2019. I was honoured to sit next to Professor Chiou, and he recounted to me how one of his favourite students was the Hon. George Brandis, who served in this chamber as Leader of the Government in the Senate for many years with great distinction. In fact, I sent to my good friend George Brandis a photograph of myself and Professor Chiou sitting together, and George immediately responded affectionately, saying how much Professor Chiou meant to him. This scholarship and this education were based on a deep intellectual base. I was greatly interested to go back and review Professor Chiou's work Maoism in Action: The Cultural Revolution, and there was so many lessons from this book that have resonance in the world today. So that was the first aspect of Professor Chiou's great contribution to our nation.

The second was his promotion of the relationship between Australia and Taiwan. Professor Chiou was always close to his Hakka culture and did much to keep that culture alive and prospering in Australia, including in my home state of Queensland. In 1993, he founded the Taiwan Institute in Australia. During his frequent trips and visits to Taiwan and to many other nations around the world, he promoted harmonious relationships between Taiwan and Australia and between Taiwan and many other countries around the world. Just reflect for a moment that the fact that Professor Chiou was so well regarded both in Taiwan and in Australia made his contribution both to Taiwan and to Australia and to the relationship between the people of Taiwan and Australia so special, such a unique contribution from such a unique individual.

Third and perhaps, for me, most moving was Professor Chiou's deep commitment to the spirit of democracy. Many times that commitment potentially led him into danger and many times he had to make personal life choices to honour that spirit of democracy throughout his life. For me that is perhaps the most moving contribution that Professor Chiou made. In reading many of the articles which Professor Chiou wrote over his time as a leading intellectual in this country, and as a contributor to the intellectual life in both Taiwan and Australia, I was consistently moved by how much he cherished that spirit of democracy. There was a simplicity and a purity to that commitment, which I think everyone serving in this chamber would do well to remember. Professor Chiou's service to our country was recognised by Australia in 2003 through the award of a Centenary Medal.

We should also remember that Professor Chiou was a beloved husband to Flora, a beloved father and father-in-law of Grace, Michael, Leon, Kim and Sue, and a treasured grandfather of Rachel, Lucy, Emma, Sam, Joseph and Caitlyn. When I attended Professor Chiou's memorial service I was greatly moved by the contribution of his grandchildren on that day. I'm sure Professor Chiou would have been incredibly touched by how they contributed to his memory on that day. There is perhaps nothing more special than the love between a grandparent and their grandchildren.

Australia is truly blessed that Professor Chiou and his wife Flora chose to make a home in our beautiful country in Australia, just as we are truly blessed that we have such a vibrant Australian Taiwanese community and just as we are truly blessed that we have such positive relations with the people of Taiwan. Professor Chiou's contribution to education and to promoting the relationship between Australia and Taiwan, and his passion for the spirit of democracy, is an example to inspire all Australians, regardless of their background. Professor Chiou's story is part of who we are as modern-day Australians. It is now part of the Australian story. Professor Chiou's commitment to democracy and the purity of his belief in the spirit of democracy should serve as an inspiration to all of us who have the honour to sit in this chamber in this Australian parliament. It is now truly fit and proper that Professor Chiou's legacy be recorded in the Hansard of the Senate, at the heart of Australia's democracy.