Thu, May 10, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Name fight set for CKS Memorial Hall

APPELLATION AFFRAY The ruling party will rename the sprawling monument to the KMT strongman, but doubts over the legality of the move could result in a bitter brawl

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A battle over whether Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) Memorial Hall will shed the name of the infamous dictator who ruled Taiwan with an iron fist for decades was in the offing yesterday.

The Cabinet said it would move ahead with a name-change for the hall, regardless of how the legislature responded to a request to suspend the law that regulates the management of the monument.

It was not immediately clear what the official name of the hall would be in English, although the proposed Chinese name (台灣民主紀念館) loosely translates as "Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall."

"The Ministry of Education (MOE) will decide when the new name becomes effective," said Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶), spokeswoman for the Cabinet.

She said that the Cabinet approved a proposal to suspend the Organic Law of the CKS Memorial Hall Management and rename the hall on April 13.

The suspension request now travels to the legislature, where it must be approved by a simple majority to take effect. If the law is suspended, the hall will be downgraded to the MOE's jurisdiction, according to the Cabinet's plan.

"CKS Memorial Hall is one of those places where democratic protests have been held during the past few years. Many stories have unfolded at CKS Memorial Hall, and each of them has had a serious impact on Taiwan's democracy," Chen said.

"That was why we came up with the new name, in memory of the process of Taiwan's democracy," Chen said.

"In addition to renaming the building, we are also planning to display certain documents, photos and artifacts at the hall in the future, to present in its entirety the development of Taiwan's democracy," Chen said.

CKS Memorial Hall's current staff members and facilities will continue to work at the monument, she said.

Chen added that the MOE has yet to come up with a final version of an English-language name for the hall.

Director of the MOE's Department of Social Education, Chu Nan-Shyan (朱楠賢), who oversees the Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) Memorial Hall, told the Taipei Times that erecting two signs -- one reading "CKS Memorial Hall," and another reading "Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall" -- during a "transitional period" might be helpful.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties made it clear they were spoiling for a fight over the issue, but were careful to avoid championing dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) himself.

Since the end of the authoritarian era, Chiang's image has undergone a re-evaluation among Taiwanese, even by members of the institution that was the vehicle for his power: the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday challenged the name-change, but focused on the financial costs such a move would incur.

Hau said that it would cost about NT$8 million (US$230,000) in "unnecessary expenditures" to change the hall's name on bus stops and MRT stations.

"The name `CKS Memorial Hall' has been used on bus stops and MRT stations, and people are used to it. The policy does not take the public's convenience into consideration," Hau said yesterday at Taipei City Hall.

Condemning the Cabinet for "putting political ideology ahead of people's rights," Hau said the city government will make residents' rights its priority, and examine the necessity of changing the name of the hall on bus stops and in MRT stations.

Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih and Max Hirsch

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