Wed, May 23, 2007 - Page 1 News List

City strikes back in name-change game

PROVOCATIVE? In a move Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said was unrelated to the CKS Hall controversy, the city government renamed a stretch of Ketagalan Boulevard

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Workers from the Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs tear down banners covering the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall yesterday. The department said the banners and the scaffolding covering the original name plaque violated the Cultural Heritage Protection Law, and ordered them to be taken down.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei City Government yesterday retaliated against the central government's renaming of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall by announcing it would rename a section of Ketagalan Boulevard directly in front of the Presidential Office the "Anti-Corruption Democracy Square" (反貪腐民主廣場).

According to the city government's new plan, the section of Ketagalan Boulevard between Gongyuan Road (公園路) and Jingfumen (景福門) will be renamed, but further details on the designs of name plates and whether the plates will cover the old ones have yet to be determined.

"This decision has been made in line with suggestions from many residents. Fighting corruption is also a key municipal policy. Besides, the boulevard was also the scene of a large anti-corruption campaign last year," Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said yesterday at Taipei City Hall.

Arguing that the name-change plan had nothing to do with its dispute with the Ministry of Education over the name change of CKS Memorial Hall, Hau insisted that the city government came up with the plan in response to residents' suggestions.

"Fighting corruption and democracy are universal values. I believe no one would oppose such an idea ? [Renaming the boulevard] is within the city government's authority," said Hau, the son of a general under dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

The KMT is scheduled to give its full support to Hau's plan during its Central Standing Committee this afternoon.

In another move against the central government's name-change policy, the Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs yesterday tore down the banners on the walls and the canvas sheet covering the name plate of CKS Memorial Hall, sparking criticism from the ministry and pan-green city councilors over its "raid."

After fining the education ministry's "Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall" Administration NT$300,000 (US$8693) for putting up the canvas and banners, the department yesterday sent 40 workers to climb the scaffolding, removing the banners and canvas within 30 minutes.

"It's not a raid. We issued the notice to the administration for the banner's removal on Saturday and also issued fines, but the government failed to take any action. It's within our authority to take them down at any time," department director Lee Yong-ping (李永萍) said yesterday at the hall after the banners were removed.

Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) later condemned the department for its "rude" move.

Vice Minister of Education Chou Tsan-der (周燦德), who arrived at the hall to find the banners and canvas removed, condemned the department.

"We strongly protest the department's abrupt move ? but we will abide by laws and not put the canvas back unless the council decides that they are legal," Chou said.

Chou also refused the department's request to negotiate with the ministry to open the doors of the main hall.

"Control of the doors is in our hands and we won't allow the department to open them," he said.

The ministry, after a meeting later yesterday over the matter, last night pledged to put the canvas and banners back in a legal manner.

"The city government abused its power in tearing down the banners and seizing them ? We will file lawsuits against the city government for seizing public property," Chou said.

Chou said the ministry received the city government's notice at 9:30am, but the department asked the workers to tear down the banners at 10am, making it impossible for the ministry to prevent the move.

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