Chen urges KMT to apologize for 228

NO MORE SECRETS: The president told a memorial ceremony in Taipei that only when the complete truth is known would fairness and justice be truly served

By Ko Shu-ling and Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Thu, Mar 01, 2007 - Page 1

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) should apologize for the atrocities committed during the White Terror era and turn over all documents concerning the 228 Incident, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.

Chen also asked the KMT to return assets stolen from the people, rather than selling them off at reduced prices.

"We find it unacceptable that some politicians' words do not match their actions. They apologize on the one hand, but sell off their stolen party assets on the other," he said.

"Such politicians are not fit to lead the country," he said.

Chen made the remarks in a speech to the national memorial service commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1947 massacre at Taipei City's 228 Peace Park yesterday afternoon.

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Yu Shyi-kun and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) were among those attending the event.

MANY, MANY VICTIMS

Saying the 228 Incident was not an "ordinary historical event," the president said that anyone who had suffered under the KMT's authoritarian reign was also a victim of the incident.

Although the government has made efforts to help 228 Incident victims and their families to cope with their pain, there was much more to be done, Chen said.

"Sixty years is not the end but a new beginning," he said. "Future work will focus on addressing the responsibility of perpetrators."

"Only when the truth is known can fairness and justice be served," he said.

Such responsibilities include renaming Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) mausoleum and accounting for all the atrocities committed during the Martial Law era, Chen said.

At the ceremony, Chen presented certificates to four victims of the "228 Incident" to restore their reputations. They had been labeled as "hooligans" on their household registrations during the KMT's reign.

Yesterday morning, Chen unveiled the name plaque of the new National 228 Incident Museum.

He also urged the legislature to approve legal revisions to the Statute for Handling of and Compensation for the 228 Incident (二二八事件處理及補償條例).

The government proposed an amendment to the law which has been blocked by pan-blue lawmakers since it was introduced in October 2005.

LEE'S PROMISE

Meanwhile, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) vowed to dedicate himself to helping Taiwan become a more "normal" nation and said he would always stand by the Taiwanese people.

Lee said he would continue to push for the country's name to be changed, for the enactment of a new constitution and for accession to the UN.

Lee made the remarks at the "10,000 People Sing" event held yesterday afternoon on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office. The event was cosponsored by the 228 Foundation.

In other developments, Su urged KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to do more to help 228 Incident victims and their family members.

ONUS ON KMT

"[Ma] always says that he's sorry for the victims and their family members. Well, I hope he shows some sincerity," Su said as he attended the grand opening of the 228 National Memorial Hall yesterday morning.

Su said the KMT had done little -- other than make apologies -- to make reparations to 228 Incident victims and their families.

He urged Ma to turn over 228 Incident-related documents kept in the KMT's museum to the government to help with the investigation into the incident. He also urged Ma to ask KMT members to stop boycotting proposed laws or amendments related to 228.

"I would also suggest [Ma] return the party's assets stolen from the people [to the government so that they can be allocated] for the use of 228 Incident victims and their families," Su said.

The premier said the KMT's museum has documents detailing the progress of the 228 Incident, including the twice-a-day telegrams that KMT members sent to the party's headquarters in Nanjing to update party leaders on the latest developments.

The KMT headquarters then deployed more troops to Taiwan and worked with its Taipei branch to coordinate the arrests of people whose names were on a check list, he said.

"Victims and their families expect the truth to come out because there will be no forgiveness if there is no truth," Su said. "The KMT should help to make this happen by doing more, not just saying `sorry.'"

The premier said the KMT had perpetrated the 228 Incident and its aftermath was its responsibility.

Su added that the government should not be responsible for paying compensation to the victims or their families.

"The government's money comes from the people. It is their tax money, from their hard work," he said. "The KMT created the tragedy. It would be natural for the party to pay compensation. I do not see anything wrong with that, since the majority of the KMT's assets were stolen from the people anyway."