Mon, Jan 13, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Chiang dead but not forgotten

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A rock-n-roll band performs at the commemorative concert ``CCK, Taiwan Misses You'' in downtown Taipei yesterday in memory of the late president Chiang Ching-kuo.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the death of former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國).

In the run-up to the occasion, both the KMT and the PFP have been battling to grab their own share of Chiang's limelight as each of the parties launched a series of events to commemorate one of Taiwan's most influential figures.

Chiang inherited the reins of power following the death of his father, Chiang Kai-shek, (蔣介石) in 1975 and ruled until his own death in 1988. The pan-blue camp gives Chiang the younger much of the credit for Taiwan's transformation from dusty backwater to economic and democratic powerhouse.

Taking the early initiative, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), in his capacity as a member of the KMT's Central Standing Committee, gave a presentation last Wednesday during the committee's weekly meeting commenting on the legacy of Chiang.

Ma served as English secretary to Chiang during Chiang's presidency.

The presentation was followed by two commemorative concerts, titled "CCK, Taiwan misses you" and "Those good old days when people were full of hope," staged by the party over the weekend. CCK are the initials for Chiang Ching-kuo.

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) has also penned a 4,000-word commemorative article in memory of Chiang. The article is to be printed today in various Chinese-language newspapers, according to Lien.

The PFP, meanwhile, kicked off a commemorative event of its own and also held a roundtable conference on Saturday, hosted by PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), to mark the anniversary.

Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), a political observer and editor in chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine, said that there is more to these moves than simply commemoration, and buried inside last week's events lies a hidden political agenda.

Both parties are attempting to cash in on Chiang's image to help bolster party support, Chin said.

The events serve two main political purposes, according to Chin.

"By saying that Chiang is their spiritual leader and icon, the KMT is trying to sever ties with Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and also counteract him when he said that he [Lee] is the true follower of Chiang's ideals," Chin said.

Chin was referring to Lee's recent statement praising Chiang as one of the pioneers of Taiwan's localization and democratization and criticizing the KMT for moving away from Chiang's path, almost turning itself into a communist party in the process.

"It is through their series of talks commemorating Chiang that the KMT wants to tell the public that the party, which looks to Chiang as its spiritual leader, represents the good old times and a healthy economy while Lee represents negative images such as `black gold' and independence ideals," Chin said.

"However this is all quite ironic," added Chin. "The KMT has been asking Lee to step out of the public eye for a long time now, but now that he [Lee] is no longer the president anymore, the KMT is eager to back Chiang, a man who does not enjoy much positive public recognition."

Chin said that another reason for holding commemorative talks is to persuade the public that the KMT did follow the path and ideals of Chiang.

"Both the KMT and the PFP are competing with each other to tell the public that it is the political party that has best upheld Chiang's ideals," Chin said.

Gone awol

Noting that Soong did not show up at the KMT-sponsored commemorative concerts over the weekend, Chin said that his absence shows that despite talk of pan-blue cooperation, the struggle over which party holds the upper hand and is the best representative of Chiang's ideals continues to be a sticking point.

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