Mon, Feb 12, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Letters: Chiang's place in history

However, we must all remember that he was a leader: autocratic and dictator-like and his memorials are not dissimilar from memorials in the US devoted to its own leaders.

I am not a very experienced person when it comes to Taiwanese politics. My own family supported the KMT back in the day, which explains why my life is in Canada. However, regardless of my own political stripe, we must remember Chiang as a historical figure, not as an image to glorify or spit on.

He still was a part of Taiwan's history no matter how it is played out. Simply removing everything involving his image does not benefit nor condemn anyone. In fact, it might even have confusing effect.

The last time I visited Taipei was in 2005, when the airport was still called Chiang Kai-shek International Airport. The next time I cross the Pacific, I will arrive at the same airport, but it will bear a different name.

What does that say to visitors? Do government officials want to confuse tourists into thinking that Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is actually aimed toward memorializing "Taiwan's democracy?"

For history's sake, please, keep history history.

A reader (name provided)

Canada

While not detracting from Sun's philosophies or political accomplishments, it seems that Li Chen-ching (Letters, Feb 7, page 8), misses the point regarding Sun's "unfathomable" downgrading as far as his status as Taiwan's "Father of the Nation" is concerned.

Without getting into the historical timeline anomaly and KMT historical propaganda, Li seems to be mixing the idea of international statesman with national icon.

Sun may indeed be the "Father of China," (ironic given his status in the PRC), but his place in Taiwan cannot be determined solely by a KMT-enforced interpretation of history.

Li's assertion that Taiwan's "successes were derived from, or are compatible with, the early national reconstruction draft laid out by Sun," is clearly derived from and only compatible with a narrow KMT historical interpretation of "national."

That Sun had some laudable ideas is indisputable and their relevance to modern Taiwan is also of course important, but his personal significance as the "Father of the Nation" is, at best, precarious.

Many great leaders have had many great ideas, but, unlike Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and former South African president Nelson Mandela, who command adulation at home as well as international recognition, Sun ultimately lacks the fundamental local participation to be revered as a Taiwanese hero.

It is high time that this, and more, propaganda is exposed and Taiwanese history be taught more honestly and openly to Taiwanese students.

The people of free Taiwan must use this opportunity to re-visit their past and forge their true identity, giving due dignity, respect and honor to the real Taiwanese patriots whose commitment, sacrifices and perseverance have made the freedom of Taiwan possible.

David Kay

Taipei

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