Following the decapitation of statues of former President Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and Japanese engineer Yoichi Hatta, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker yesterday said he has drafted a bill that would repurpose the Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) Memorial Hall and relocate all the nation’s Chiang statues.
DPP Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) said that he would today begin seeking endorsements from other lawmakers for the bill, which would see the abolishment of the Organization Act of National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Management Office (國立中正紀念堂管理處組織法).
The proposal seeks to shutter the memorial hall to remove all symbols associated with Chiang and then refurbish it for other purposes, and the relocation of all Chiang statues nationwide to Chiang’s mausoleum in Taoyuan’s Dasi District (大溪).
“Statues [of Chiang] are the final remnant of the [Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)] authoritarian regime, which has to be removed if a full-fledged democracy is to be realized,” Yao said
Yao, who has also advocated the phasing out of coins featuring Chiang’s portrait, said that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would be blamed if the hall is not closed in the near future.
“It is the government’s fault that different groups in society have taken to engaging in vandalism,” Yao said, referring to the statue decapitations.
Hatta was a renowned civil engineer who built major irrigation systems in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period. A statue of him was beheaded in Tainan earlier this month, allegedly by a former Taipei City councilor linked to a pro-unification group, as an act of revenge against the beheading of Chiang statues.
The vandalism has sparked a heated debate along political and ethnic lines about the legacy of the KMT government and the Japanese colonial era.
Retired army lieutenant general Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷), who was at the center of a scandal involving retired generals participating in a political event in Beijing, said that the government’s acquiescence in the vandalizing of Chiang statues and its “honoring of Japanese” would intensify problems between ethnic groups, and “people would be prompted to vandalize totems of Japan.”
“It is because transitional justice has not been fully implemented that people are making such threats,” Yao said. “The last mile of transitional justice is the removal of authoritarian symbols. The government has to remove all those symbols to prevent conflicts.”
Meanwhile, in an apparent dig at Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who has voiced opposition to proposals to remove Chiang symbols, Yao said there are still 47 Chiang statues in Taipei, which should be removed immediately.
Ko’s suggestion that past conflicts should be put aside in pursuit of a common future demonstrates his ignorance of history, as the commemoration of Chiang was institutionalized through abuse of power, and authoritarianism should be expunged from society, Yao said.
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