The controversy over a bronze statue of fromer president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) on National Cheng Kung University’s (NCKU) campus in Greater Tainan came to a close on Wednesday after the contentious item was relocated indoors.
The statue, which used to stand by Cheng Kung Lake, was removed to the school’s archives room early on Wednesday morning. The move was filmed by Chen Ting-yu (陳亭羽), a student in the Department of Taiwanese Literature.
The removal of the statue reflected the university’s willingness to acknowledge students’ calls for the institution to be anti-authoritarian, but the process could have been handled better, Chen said.
“The relocation should have been made public because it was a momentous event,” Chen said, adding that the school’s decision to remove the statue when students are preparing for their final exams “gave students the feeling that the school was trying to do it on the sly.”
In response to some students saying that the relocation of the statue should have been publicized instead of being low-profile, the school’s secretary-general, Chen Chin-cheng (陳進成), said that it had been better to be low-key about the removal of the statue because the issue had already caused a commotion inside and outside the campus, so the school did not want the relocation to cause another disturbance.
The statue is now on the eighth floor of the school’s archives on its Kuang Fu campus. As the statue is part of the university’s history, a plaque is to be made to explain its significance, Chen Chin-cheng added.
A heated debate at the school about the statue’s relocation erupted after a students’ art installation on Feb. 28 last year. A group of students staged the installation to mark the 65th anniversary of the 228 Incident in the hopes of raising public awareness about the horrific moment in the nation’s history so people could learn from past mistakes.
Members of student organization, the 02 Group (零貳社) — whose name is a phonetic translation of the word “protest” in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) — hung a sign reading “1947-2012” on the statue and placed the names of victims of the massacre around it.
The Incident refers to a massacre that sparked a massive 1947 nationwide uprising against the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime. The uprising was brutally crushed in a violent crackdown spearheaded by the state and also marked the beginning of the White Terror era.