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Sun, May 07, 2000 - Page 2 News List

228 Museum changing hands

FAREWELL The Taiwan Peace Foundation, which has run the museum since its opening in 1997, is hosting activities to mark its work before handing over management of the institution to the Taipei City Government

By Liu Shao-hu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Residents came out last night to commemorate the work of the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum under the management of the Taiwan Peace Foundation. The foundation will end its administration of the memorial museum at the end of this month after its three-year contract with the Taipei City Government was not extended last year.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei 228 Memorial Museum (台北二二八紀念館) held a "graduation exhibition" last night to comemorate its work over the past three years.

The exhibition was a "speechless ending" in protest at the Taipei City Government's termination of the contract with the current steering organization of the museum, the Taiwan Peace Foundation (TPF, 台灣和平基金會).

Supporters of the museum said the city government's termination of the contract was due to its discontent with the foundation's pro-Taiwan ideology. Officials from the city government, however, said the change hinged on administrative procedures.

"We've dedicated our efforts to managing the museum and have acquired a great deal of positive response [from the public]. Taipei City Government's actions disregard our devotion," said Lee Min-yung (李敏勇), president of the foundation, speaking to a small crowd.

The museum was established in 1997, on the 50th anniversary of 228 Incident, during President-elect Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) term as mayor of Taipei. It is also the first city-owned, privately-run (公辦民營) museum.

The foundation's committee is comprised of many celebrities in Taiwan, including Chen's present national policy advisers Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) and I-Mei Food Co Ltd President Kao Chih-ming (高志明), as well as Bo Yang (柏楊), one of Taiwan's most renowned writers, who is also a former political prisoner.

"We established the museum to be a Taipei cultural landmark in a short period of three years," said Iap Phok-bun (葉博文), the museum's curator and also the executive-general of foundation.

Iap said there have been 14 exhibitions with specific topics and more than 80 cultural activities at the museum. Furthermore, the museum functioned with less than 20 paid staff.

"We even published 10 books last year," Iap said, saying that the foundation's focus for the museum was cultural enthusiasm.

"Some museologists said it was a miracle since few museums in the world could acquire this kind of achievement in such a short time," said Iap.

The Taipei City Government's Cultural Affairs Bureau terminated the contract with the museum in January last year, claiming it was illegitimate.

"But [Taipei mayor] Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) even gave an award to the foundation in honor of our dedication to the museum last December," said Iap, pointing out, what he called, a contradictory attitude on the government's part toward the museum.

The TPF will host farewell activities for the public from May 7 to May 31, when it is forced to terminate its management of the museum.

A final exhibition includes a display of posters from previous exhibitions on the 228 Incident, depicting the 1947 crackdown from the perspectives of Aborigines, mainlanders, Hokkien and Hakka. The exhibit also offers a brief history of the museum.

"Peace has been always our concern in memory of the [228] incident," said Lee Min-yung.

The 228 Incident remains as one of the darker chapters in Taiwan's short history following the KMT's takeover of the island from the Japanese colonial government after WWII.

Many of Taiwan's most prominent citizens and leading intellectuals were dragged from their homes, some to be killed and others to simply disappear forever, presumably killed as well. The estimated number of people killed and missing is the topic of ongoing debate, but some place the figure in the tens of thousands.

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