Sat, Nov 13, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Blasts at MOE mar Sun's anniversary

DIVISIVE DAY Late night explosions outside the ministry came after a day filled with both praise and criticism of Sun Yat-sen's connection with Taiwan

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Independent candidate Lin Chin-chang, left, who was recently expelled by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), yesterday tries to cause a commotion in front of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei, demanding that KMT Chairman Lien Chan and People First Party Chairman James Soong step down.

PHOTO: CHEN TZE-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

A small explosion occurred outside the Ministry of Education last night, triggering speculation that groups unhappy with proposed history textbook reforms may have sought to express their views on a day marked with contentions about Taiwan's national identity.

According to media reports, a series of three explosions were heard at 8:15pm by an employee working late at the ministry.

No one was hurt in the incident.

As of press time, police were unsure of possible motives or suspects. Authorities say they found the remains of a clock amid the debris left by the explosions.

Last night's blasts came just three days after an explosion outside the Chinese Television System building in Taipei on Tuesday night. Police yesterday said they could not rule out the possibility that the two incidents were connected.

The explosions capped a day of disputes between the pan-blue and pan-green camps about the education ministry and national identity that even marred celebrations for the 139th anniversary of Sun Yat-sen's (孫中山) birth.

While pan-blue legislative hopefuls and senior officials visited the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei to pay their respects to the founder of the Republic of China (ROC), pan-green figures decried his designation as the "nation's father" by highlighting his lack of connection to Taiwan.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Examination Yuan president Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文) and Examination Yuan member Lin Yu-ti (林玉体) said that while Sun was worthy of respect, they did not support his designation as the nation's father.

"We only call Sun the `nation's father' out of respect. To say that Sun Yat-sen was a foreigner ?Well, he is a foreigner," Yao said after attending a government ceremony commemorating Sun's birthday.

"He was a founder of a new country. He made contributions, but it's hard to say whose contributions were the greatest. It is best if in Taiwan we do not hold to the concept of a `nation father,'" Lin said.

Lin told reporters on Thursday that he believed that Taiwan had more than one founding father, given the number of people who had sacrifices for Taiwan throughout its long history.

Lin's and Yao's words echoed a call by the Taiwan Solidarity Union's (TSU) legislative caucus yesterday. The caucus held a press conference to emphasize its contention that Sun is not Taiwan's founding father.

Under the education system established by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Sun is the nation's father, the TSU said. However, Sun has a very limited connection with Taiwan, the caucus said.

Since Taiwan itself was not a participant in the creation of the ROC, Sun should not be considered the nation's father, the caucus said.

Pan-blue leaders who went to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall accused the government of confusing Taiwan's national identity.

"No matter if you're speaking in English or in Chinese, everyone only has one father. The Republic of China, of course, only has one father," said People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) after laying a wreath at the base of Sun's statue.

Meanwhile, the KMT opened a display of artifacts and documents concerning the nation's founding in the central lobby of its party headquarters. When looking at the display, KMT spokesperson Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭) said it was clear that the KMT and Sun had close connections with theTaiwan.

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