President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday pledged to seek social consensus when handling major ethnic issues, including the 228 Incident and a proposed renaming of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.
The president asked the Ministry of Education (MOE) to organize a public forum and seek consensus on issues related to the title of the hall and promised to continue funding the 228 Memorial Foundation with an annual budget of NT$300 million (US$9.2 million).
“The process of handling these issues is as important as the results. Some people are more concerned about the process, so we should make decisions by reaching a consensus rather than through a vote,” Ma said while addressing a meeting of education and interior ministry officials at the Presidential Office.
The meeting was called by the president to address the future of the government-funded 228 Memorial Foundation and the controversy surrounding the name of the hall.
Vice Premier Paul Chiu (邱正雄), Executive Yuan Secretary-General Hsueh Hsiang-chuan (薛香川) and education and interior ministry officials, including Minister of Education Cheng Jei-cheng (鄭瑞城) and Minister Without Portfolio Ovid Tzeng (曾志朗), attended the meeting.
In addition to the foundation’s annual budget, Ma also promised to establish regulations to legitimize the establishment of the 228 National Museum, Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said.
The foundation was critical of the Ma administration after the legislature, dominated by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), froze its budget last year and then refused to grant a budget for this year.
Ma, who has been seeking support from 228 Incident victims since serving as Taipei mayor, said the government would make up for the previous budget cuts by providing an annual budget starting next year and vowed to continue funding the foundation until the government had paid the NT$1.5 billion the foundation had been promised by the previous administration.
Wang said the president also asked the Executive Yuan to apply to the legislature to unfreeze the 2007 budget for the foundation.
The 228 Incident refers to an uprising against the KMT that began on Feb. 28, 1947, and was followed by a bloody crackdown, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.
On the controversies surrounding the hall, Wang said the MOE’s plan to replace the name plaque with the original Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall plaque remained unchanged and that the replacement would be done in accordance with the law.
On other issues relating to the hall — including whether to change the title back to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the future of the Liberty Square inscription at the entrance — Ma asked the MOE to organize a public forum before July to attempt to seek a consensus before making any decisions, Wang said