Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (
The memorial ceremony, titled "Reflect humbly, hold a sincere dialogue and keep the promise," was staged to mark the 59th anniversary of the 228 Incident. It was first of a series of 228 memorial events the KMT arranged to work toward reconciliation with the 228 victims and their family members.
"While it was the government that made the decision [regarding the 228 Incident], the KMT was the ruling party and so the KMT is not without responsibilities," Ma said yesterday in his speech.
The chairman said suppression of the government at that time was the main cause behind the incident.
"To prevent it from happening again, the government needs to avoid corruption," he said.
Ma said that the ceremony, which invited 228 victims, their family members and party officials to take part in sincere dialogue, was a "very important and meaningful event" and a crucial part of his efforts to promote reconciliation.
"Fifty-nine years after the incident, many victims or their family members are still sad, and it is hard for outsiders to understand how they feel. Without tolerance and understanding, the 228 Incident will never be put to rest," he said.
But Ma stopped short of a formal apology for the incident, which most of the 228 victims and their families were waiting for.
"I have already apologized so many times in the past," the chairman said later when confronted by the media.
Chang Liang-ze (
"The intention of this event is good, but it's not enough. Ma didn't offer an apology. He is not sincere," he said.
Some other families of the victims, on the other hand, said that they were not concerned about an apology.
"Is Ma's apology going to help to those who died [in the incident]? The apology is not important. What matters is to reform the KMT and transform it into a real Taiwanese local party," said Chang An-man (
In addition to Ma, KMT officials including KMT vice chairman Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄) and Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴), grandson of dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), also attended the ceremony.
Chiang's appearance at the ceremony upset some of the families. They demanded that Chiang offer an apology for what his grandfather did or else be expelled from the event.
A recent official report on the incident contends that Chiang Kai-shek was the mastermind of the 228 Incident. John Chiang said he understood the families' feelings, but refused to apologize because he rejected what he called "a report that lacks direct evidence."
"Until the truth comes out, there's no need for me to offer any apology," he said yesterday.
The 228 Incident refers to the KMT's bloody crackdown on demonstrators under Chiang Kai-shek's administration in 1947 after an incident in Taipei on Feb. 28 of that year. The incident culminated in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Taiwanese at the hands of KMT troops.