Tue, Feb 06, 2007 - Page 1 News List

CKS statues' removal nears completion

GOING, GOING... While the MND pledged to remove all statues of Chiang from military bases, a DPP lawmaker suggested moving CKS Memorial Hall to Taoyuan County

By Flora Wang, Rich Chang and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Visitors make use of the sunny weather to tour the grounds of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei yesterday. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsueh Ling wants to rename the monument to ``Taiwan Democracy Hall,'' while the Ministry of National Defense is expected to remove all statues of Chiang from military bases this month.

PHOTO: CNA

The dictator is losing his place in the sun, at least on military bases.

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has promised to remove all statues of dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) from the nation's military bases by the end of this month -- the 60th anniversary of the 228 Incident.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsueh Ling (薛凌) told a press conference yesterday that the ministry had promised to store all of the statues in indoor facilities in response to a proposal from the party last weekend.

Hsueh was accompanied by DPP legislators Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) and Sandy Yen (莊和子).

"This [proposal] conforms to the basic principle of democracy," Hsueh said. "Names of places such as the Chiang Kai-shek International Airport have also been changed [to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport]. This is a world trend, because we are in a democratic era now, not an authoritarian one."

Hsueh said removing Chiang's statutes was a way to help the military get rid of the symbolic influence of the dictator, who controlled the military with an iron grip.

Chai said in a press release that since an investigative report published by the 228 Incident Memorial Foundation last year concluded that Chiang should be held responsible for the incident, which took place in 1947, his statutes located in every part of the nation should be removed.

In the 228 Incident, conflict between anti-contraband officers and local people led to clashes.

Thereafter military forces were called in from China, escalating into an islandwide crackdown during which tens of thousands of people were arrested and killed.

DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) meanwhile urged the Cabinet to move the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to Dashi Township (大溪), Taoyuan County, where the tombs of Chiang and his son, former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), are located, in a bid to clear "the shadow of an authoritarian regime."

Gao said that the Provisions Governing the Organization of the CKS Memorial Hall Administration Office (國立中正紀念堂管理處組織條例) did not stipulate a location for the memorial, and therefore relocating it was possible.

After relocation, the current site could be used to honor the nation's democratic development, he said.

Meanwhile, ministry spokesman Rear-Admiral Wu Chi-fang (吳季方) told the Taipei Times yesterday that the proposal to remove all remaining statues of Chiang from military bases was a purely expediential measure that had nothing to do with politics or politicization of the military.

"Because the military has been proceeding with a downsizing of the army ... the ministry last year began implementing the proposal of removing statues of Chiang Kai-shek along with the reshuffling of military bases, and is arranging that the statues are moved to proper places, such as existing monuments relating to Chiang Kai-shek nationwide," Wu said.

He said the statues standing outside military bases were being eroded and stained by their exposure to the elements.

"The military honors the late president's contribution to the country and the military, and we honor history, but times have changed and it is now a democratic age," Wu said.

He said that the proposal would not change the training of soldiers.

"We educate the military to love our country, but we have never educated the military to love Chiang Kai-shek," he said.

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