Tue, Mar 01, 2011 - Page 1 News List

National 228 museum opens in Taipei

NEVER FORGET:Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah said the ministry would keep reminding government offices to fly the national flag at half-mast on Feb. 28

By Ko Shu-ling, Rich Chang and Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporters

“As the president of the Republic of China [ROC], I am willing to apologize and be responsible for the mistakes the government made in the past,” he said in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese).

“I am sorry for the pain that the government caused you,” he said.

Ma said that five years ago, when he was Taipei mayor, he proposed the central government establish a national memorial hall to commemorate the 228 Incident to show that the government attaches great importance to the tragedy and is capable of reflecting on itself.

“It also signifies that Taiwan’s democracy is becoming more mature and that the ROC government is one that knows how to examine its own mistakes,” he said at the time.

History is like a mirror, he said. The incident happened when Taiwan was not yet a democracy, but now everything is different, he said, adding that people must take good advantage of the democratic system that has developed over time and keep the government in check so it will not be corrupt and make the same mistake again.

If the government and people can work together for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, Ma said he believed similar incidents would never occur in Taiwan.

Before Ma’s speech, a man who lost his father in the massacre drew parallels between the 228 Incident and the mass protests that have shaken much of North Africa and parts of the Middle East in recent weeks.

“If there had been the Internet to serve as a communications tool in 1947, the 228 Incident would have been recognized by the world, like today’s ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in Tunisia, as a movement seeking liberty and justice,” said Chien Ming-jen (簡明仁), president of First International Computer.

Born in March 1947, Chien said he never met his father, a teacher who was arrested in 1950 and executed in 1951, and did not realize his family history until he was 32 years old.

“Many would say: ‘Let’s forget the past,’ but the stigmatization and fear that is attached to my family will take generations to erase,” he said, adding that the government should support the families of the victims and face history with honesty.

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) described the incident as an “unfortunate tragedy,” saying it was “inevitable” for any individual or government to make mistakes, but it is even more important to recognize the mistakes and make sure they will never happen again.

Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said the ministry had asked government agencies to fly the flag of the Republic of China at half staff on Feb. 28 to remind them of the memorial day.

“We just want them to follow the rules,” he said. “This is not the first time government agencies have been required to do so since the measure was enacted in 2006.”

Jiang said that some government bodies might forget to do so, but they would not be punished if they fail to comply

If his ministry can continue to remind them in the lead-up to all national holidays, Jiang said he believed they would remember when the time comes.

He also dismissed speculation that the country’s embassies and representative offices abroad did not have to comply, saying the rule applied everywhere.

The government has held a 228 ceremony every year since 2003 as part of efforts to heal historical wounds through legislative or concrete acts, such as making a formal apology and offering monetary compensation to the families of the victims.

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