Today marks the 66th anniversary of the 228 Incident, a tragic page in Taiwan’s history that ushered in the White Terror era and, subsequently, steered Taiwan and its people into one of the world’s longest periods of martial law, from May 19, 1949, until July 15, 1987.
The 1947 uprising against the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime resulted in tens of thousands of people killed, missing, tortured and imprisoned without public trials. The elimination of many social elites — ethnic Taiwanese and Mainlanders alike — meant not only the tragic breakup of families and a high death toll, but also left a lasting impact on society.
“I have tried to keep the memory alive. I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty ... not to remember would turn us into accomplices of the killers, to remember would turn anyone into a friend of the victims,” Nazi Holocaust survivor and world-renowned author Elie Wiesel said in his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.
While it is comforting to note that, in keeping with the notion that history ought not to be forgotten, a series of commemorative events are held annually to mark the anniversary of the 228 Incident, the last thing any person of conscience would hope to see is to have these commemorations become mere formality simply because the date is marked in red on the calendar.
However, more lamentable and disappointing is seeing government agencies and officials of high standing harboring a downright disregard for the anniversary and for the tragedy. Regrettably, this is exactly what was suggested in a recent report regarding the 228 National Memorial Park in Chiayi City, which is governed by the KMT.
According to local media reports, Chiayi City residents are upset over the local and central government’s apparent disregard for the 228 Incident anniversary that, despite the park being the first in the country to have been designated a national park in memory of the incident, this year would mark the second year in a row that the park’s administration chose not to hold a commemorative event.
As a number of local residents have bluntly pointed out, what was the point of spending NT$950 million (US$32 million) on a national park dedicated to victims of the 228 Incident when it is left unused and plays no role in educating the public about this tragic chapter in Taiwanese history nor helps young people understand what the day represents?
The Chiayi reports prompted many to wonder whether those higher up in the KMT government truly care about the history and the significance of the date to Taiwanese. Opposition politicians yesterday accused President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of having demanded that academics relaunch a study of the 228 Incident as part of his de-Taiwanization effort.
As a report published by the 228 Incident Memorial Foundation in 2006 titled The 228 incident: A Report on Responsibility concluded that dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) had been the primary culprit in the tragedy, Ma’s latest directive raises eyebrows in view of the perception that some within the KMT remain unwilling to face up to the historical record regarding the 228 Massacre.
On Sunday, Ma again lauded Taiwan’s democratic achievements and reiterated the nation’s commitment in that area.
Hopefully the president will practice what he preaches and, in line with the spirit of democracy, neither attempt to conceal facts nor distort the truth behind the tragedy of the 228 Massacre.
Late last month, Beijing introduced changes to school curricula in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, requiring certain subjects to be taught in Mandarin rather than Mongolian. What is Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) seeking to gain from sending this message of pernicious intent? It is possible that he is attempting cultural genocide in Inner Mongolia, but does Xi also have the same plan for the democratic, independent nation of Mongolia? The controversy emerged with the announcement by the Inner Mongolia Education Bureau on Aug. 26 that first-grade elementary-school and junior-high students would in certain subjects start learning with Chinese-language textbooks, as
There are worrying signs that China is on the brink of a major food shortage, which might trigger a strategic contest over food security and push Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), already under intense pressure, toward drastic measures, potentially spelling trouble for Taiwan and the rest of the world. China has encountered a perfect storm of disasters this year. On top of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, torrential rains have caused catastrophic flooding in the Yangtze River basin, China’s largest agricultural region. Floodwaters are estimated to have already destroyed the crops on 6 million hectares of farmland. The situation has been
The restructuring of supply chains, particularly in the semiconductor industry, was an essential part of discussions last week between Taiwan and a US delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach. It took precedent over the highly anticipated subject of bilateral trade partnerships, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) founder Morris Chang’s (張忠謀) appearance on Friday at a dinner hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for Krach was a subtle indicator of this. Chang was in photographs posted by Tsai on Facebook after the dinner, but no details about their discussions were disclosed. With
On Sept. 8, at the high-profile Ketagalan security forum, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) urged countries to deal with the China challenge. She said: “It is time for like-minded countries, and democratic friends in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, to discuss a framework to generate sustained and concerted efforts to maintain a strategic order that deters unilateral aggressive actions.” The “Taiwan model” to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic provides an alternative to China’s authoritarian way of handling it. Taiwan’s response to the health crisis has made it evident that countries across the world have much to learn from Taiwan’s best practices and if