Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) yesterday criticized a product design competition organized by the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, saying it was “very inappropriate” for the hall to sponsor the contest, which she said had been promoted in a “frivolous” manner.
The “CKS Design Competition” invited participants to submit designs inspired by the life of former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his marriage to his third wife, Soong Mayling (宋美齡), or the image of the memorial itself.
The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which falls under the ministry’s remit, administers the monument honoring Chiang.
Lung had declined to comment on the contest on Monday when questioned by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) during a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee.
Tuan had lashed out at Lung and National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall boss Wu Tsu-sheng (吳祖勝) over the contest, asking how Chiang could be used as a symbol of familial happiness when he had “destroyed many Taiwanese families with death and tragedy [stemming] from the 228 Incident and the subsequent White Terror era.”
Lung said yesterday she would take the matter up with colleagues at the hall, but did not say if the ministry would demand that the contest be revised.
The contest’s official Facebook page said the competition, along with a series of forums about the history of Taiwan under Chiang, was aimed at promoting Chinese culture and building ways for people to understand the history of the monument and to connect with it.
Participants were also asked to think about how commemorating Chiang and Soong’s 50-year marriage, and the 10th anniversary of Soong’s death could promote feelings of love between spouses and family happiness.
Lung said it was a historical fact that many families had been torn apart under the Chiang government and so the advertising for the contest was inappropriate.
If the contest was held by a private organization, it could do whatever it wanted in a kuso (惡搞, parody or satire) way, but it was inappropriate for a government agency to do so, Lung said.
However, she disagreed with Tuan’s characterization of Chiang’s role in history, saying it was too simple to label a development in history as the guilt of one individual.
Meanwhile, Wu said that in light of the controversy, the memorial hall was considering scrapping the “Chiang Kai-shek element” from the contest and focusing on the cultural and creative aspects of the hall itself. A decision will be made later this week, he said.
Additional reporting by staff writer