President-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said he would consider moving the Presidential Office, currently housed in a building occupied by the Japanese governor-general during the colonial period, to Guandu (關渡), on the outskirts of Taipei City, as a symbolic gesture liberating the country from its colonial past.
Ma made the comments during a visit to Chen Fang-ming (陳芳明), chairman of the Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature at National Chengchi University.
Ma responded positively to Chen’s advice that transitional justice should also deal with historical issues from the Japanese colonial period and that the previous office of the Japanese governor-general should not continue to serve as the Presidential Office.
Chen quoted Ma as saying that he had already begun considering the issue of moving the Presidential Office when he was Taipei mayor, with Guandu as one of the options.
Chen, a former director of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Department of Culture and Information, said that shedding light on Taiwanese history during the Japanese occupation should also be part of transitional justice and suggested that the current building housing the Presidential Office be turned into a museum of history.
“I support Ma’s plan, and I am glad that he is willing to handle the issue of the history and legacy of the colonial period. I also have no doubts about Ma’s determination to be a president for all people,” Chen said after their 80-minute meeting at the university.
Ma and Chen’s discussion echoed National Taiwan University professor Hsia Chu-chiu’s (夏鑄九) comments earlier this week that a national leader in a democratic country should not use a building that had once housed the Japanese governor.
Chen said the two did not discuss a detailed timeline of relocating the Presidential Office.
The Presidential Office, located on Ketagalan Boulevard, was built by the Japanese during the colonial period. It became the Presidential Office in 1950 after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) retreated to Taiwan.
Tuo Chung-hwa (脫宗華), deputy director of Taipei City’s Urban Planning Department, said Guandu had no building that could serve as an appropriate Presidential Office, adding that rezoning, reallocating and redistributing the land alone would take at least a year.
Ma’s meeting with Chen was part of his advice-seeking tour following his victory in last month’s presidential election.
After the meeting, Ma lauded Chen for being one of the most influential figures in localization rhetoric and said he shared Chen’s opinion on localization and transitional justice.
Chen said he continues to support DPP Chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and called on Ma to push harder for social reconciliation.