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Thu, Jan 04, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan won't be at ceremony to honor ROC hero

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial will soon honor a former diplomat of the Republic of China, Ho Feng-shan (何鳳山), for his courage in rescuing Jews during World War II.

Taiwanese officials, however, will not be allowed to attend the ceremony due to opposition from Ho's family for what they described as the government's failure to clear a black mark against Ho's name.

Officials from China, instead, will attend the ceremony scheduled to take place in Jerusalem on Jan. 23, sources said.

"The reason why the government of Taiwan is not invited to the ceremony [by Ho's family] is because they are unwilling to clear his name," Ho's son Ho Mon-to (何曼德), director of clinical research at the National Health Research Institute, told the Taipei Times yesterday.

"If Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs [MOFA] and Control Yuan had taken my advice and cleared my father's name earlier, MOFA would not be faced with the embarrassment of being unable to attend the ceremony," Ho added.

Yang Rung-tsao (楊榮藻), director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Tel-Aviv, confirmed yesterday that he was not invited to the ceremony.

"It is true that I have not received an invitation," Yang said.

Yad Vashem will posthumously award Ho, consul-general of China in Vienna between 1938 and 1940, the title of "Righteous Among the Nations," given to gentiles who helped Jews during the Holocaust.

Disregarding instructions from his superior, ROC ambassador in Berlin Chen Chieh (陳介), Ho issued thousands of visas to China to everyone who requested them while working in Nazi-occupied Austria, according to related records.

Menashe Zipori, Director of the Israeli Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, said the award represents appreciation for Ho's heroic and humanitarian deeds. "Ho helped Jews acquire Chinese visas which allowed them to emigrate to China, or at the very least to leave Austria," Zipori said.

Hero and criminal at the same time?

And although the people of Taiwan take pride in Ho's courage, his name is tainted with an impeachment for embezzlement in 1985. Ho was accused by a former subordinate and charged with embezzling US$300, along with other minor counts. Ho was already retired, living in the US, and refused to return to Taiwan to defend his name, foreign ministry officials said.

Reflecting on the life of his father, who died in 1997, Ho Mon-to said: "How can a man be a hero and a criminal at the same time?"

Ho sent his father's point-by-point rebuttal against the charges along with his father's autobiography, entitled My Forty Year Career (外交生涯四十年), to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Control Yuan in April and formally requested both government agencies to re-examine the case.

But his request was rejected. "MOFA said it was not their business and that it could not be handled by the Control Yuan either because they would need new evidence before they could re-open the case," Ho said.

Ho further pointed out what he termed a "contradictory" stance by the Taiwan government on the issue.

"On the one hand, the government of Taiwan wants to share his honor. But on the other, it refuses to clear his name," he said.

Separate issues

Yang, however, said the two issues were unrelated.

"Ho issued visas to Jews from 1938 to 1940. His subordinate accused him of corruption in the early 1970s. The two issues are separate and should not be linked together," Yang said.

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