Sun, Aug 10, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Two anomalies troubling Taiwan

By Jerome Keating

In this flux, one can only wonder if members of the KMT are still concerned over Chiang’s deathbed wish. That wish was that he be buried not in Taiwan but in Fenghua County of Zhejiang Province, China. That was supposed to happen when the KMT finally “retook” the China that it was kicked out of. That remains a pipe dream well worthy of examination and documentation.

The second great anomaly that Taiwan must deal with is, ironically, one of its current great tourist attractions, the National Palace Museum.

The location of this museum in Taiwan is again closely associated with the dead dictator. Though driven out of China, Chiang did not leave empty-handed.

He may have lost China, but he managed to bring with him most of the treasures of the National Palace Museum. A new museum was then built in Taiwan in the 1960s.

This is, of course, not the first time that a country’s museum has housed looted treasures. The British Museum is famous for the treasures its armies brought home from the numerous places they had fought in. However, with nearly 700,000 artifacts, this was the first time that almost the entire contents of a museum were looted.

So this remains a problem for Taiwanese. While it is nice to have this tourist attraction, it is awkward because these treasures date back thousands of years in Chinese history and are not part of the history of Taiwan. Even the PRC faces the problem of how to handle this. If they are too vocal in demanding the artifacts be returned, they would be admitting the reality that Taiwan is a separate nation from China.

These two great anomalies are certainly not set to be resolved in a day, a month or a year and the upcoming Nov. 29 elections are a more pressing matter for both political parties.

However, sooner or later, these anomalies need to be faced and solved.

In the meantime, Taiwan also needs to consider a different question. Who are its real heroes and whose statues should mark the countryside?

Taiwan certainly has memorials and monuments to the many that died during the White Terror era and the Martial Law era when the nation struggled for democracy. One can visit Jingmei Prison, Green Island, the 228 Peace Memorial Park and so on, but nowhere does one find statues to the individual heroes of Taiwan’s democracy.

That could be because it was a joint effort, and as such the recognition belongs to all Taiwanese. The statue of one particular person could be confusing.

Instead, perhaps Taiwanese should reclaim the name National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall and place in the vestibule a statue dedicated to the common Taiwanese man and woman. They are the ones who created Taiwan’s democracy and will be responsible for protecting it in the future.

Jerome Keating is a writer based in Taipei.

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