Wed, Dec 05, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Taipei City `law' defends CKS plaque

CLASH AHEAD With both sides intransigent on the matter of renaming a plaque at Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall, police have been deployed to prevent violence

By Flora Wang And Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A man holds up a sign that reads ``Dictatorship Square'' to protest against the government's plan to change the inscription dazhong zhizheng on the front gate of National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall to ``Liberty Square.''

PHOTO: CNA

The battle to rename the square in front of Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall heated up yesterday when the Taipei City Government passed legislation that would require the central government to seek approval from the city government if any changes were to be made to the hall.

The Ministry of Education, meanwhile, said it would proceed with plans to change the inscription once it obtained clearance from the Council of Cultural Affairs.

Following an administrative meeting yesterday morning, Lee Yung-ping (李永萍), director of the city government's Department of Cultural Affairs, told a press conference the department had amended and elevated the legal status of the "Principal Points of Designation and Abolishment of Taipei City Municipal Historical Heritage (台北市市定古蹟指定及廢止作業要點)."

The amendment stipulates that the designation or abolition of heritage sites by the city could not be influenced by the central government's designating or revoking a historical site's status.

"According to the amendment, the central government needs to obtain the city government's approval before it can manage, maintain and renew a municipal historical monument," Lee said.

The legislation came into force yesterday.

The Taipei High Administrative Court on Friday rejected a Taipei City Government injunction request to bar the ministry from changing the inscription alluding to dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) at the gateway of the memorial hall and replace it with "Liberty Square" (自由廣場).

But the court ruled that the city government had jurisdiction over its protection and "did not need to request an injunction and could arrest anyone caught destroying the relic."

"Should the ministry send a document seeking to revoke our jurisdiction over CKS Memorial Hall, we would immediately seek a constitutional interpretation as per the Local Government Act (地方制度法)," Lee said yesterday.

Lee said that anyone removing the inscription at the gateway would be arrested and charged with violation of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Law (文化資產保存法).

Yeh Chin-yuan (葉慶元), the city's Law and Regulation Committee commissioner, said that while the hall is a symbol of authoritarianism, "making changes to the hall just because the president said so was not something a democracy would do."

The ministry yesterday was given the green light by the Executive Yuan to dismantle the inscription dazhong zhizheng (大中至正) as early as tomorrow.

The permission came after Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) approved an amendment to the measures for designation and abolishment of historical sites (古蹟指定及廢止審查辦法), which was proposed by the council.

The ministry has complete authority over the hall and the Taipei City Government should stop protesting the government's decision to change the inscription, ministry Secretary-General Chuang Guo-rong (莊國榮) said.

The original four-character inscription, which reads "Great Neutrality and Perfect Uprightness," will be taken down as early as midnight tomorrow and replaced by another four-character inscription that says "Liberty Square," he said.

The council's judiciary committee yesterday passed an amendment to the regulations on designating and abolishing historical sites. The amendment, effective immediately, stipulates that a municipality will immediately lose jurisdiction over a municipal historical site after the central government has designated it as a national historical site.

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