Sun, Jul 11, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Independence leaders join ranks against funeral plan

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Examination Yuan President Yao Chia-wen, center, shakes hands with Ng Chiau-tong, chairman of World United Formosans for Independence, right, at a seminar on constitutional politics in Taipei yesterday. Sitting to the left is Koo Kuan-min, senior adviser to the president.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

The government's plan to bury the late presidents Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and his son, Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), in a state funeral was met with opposition from pro-independence leaders, who claimed it is unnecessary to hold a state funeral for both Chiangs.

"It would be excessive to bury them in a state funeral." said Senior Presidential Advisor Koo Kuan-min (辜寬敏). "They had become civilians and were not the people in power anymore. There is really no need to [hold a state funeral]. The burial plan is strictly the business of the Chiang family."

Koo made the comments yesterday at a seminar dealing with the campaign led by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to create a new constitution for Taiwan.

Koo, 78, is known for his sharp criticism of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for not adhering to the pro-independence line. Koo expressed his approval for burial of the late presidents, saying it would be conducive to social harmony and ethnic integration.

However, he strongly opposed the idea of a state funeral to honor the interment of the late presidents.

"There must be a reason why Chiang and his son chose not to be buried in Taiwan," Koo said, referring to their wishes to be buried in their hometown in China.

"When both Chiangs died, they were not interred in the form of a state burial. Therefore, it is unnecessary to do it now as the timing has gone. Furthermore, both Chiangs were no longer the presidents, so there is no need for a state burial," Koo said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) leader Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the Chinese Civil War to Mao Zedong's (毛澤東) Chinese Communist Party. The elder Chiang died in 1975. Chiang Kai-shek ruled Taiwan with an iron fist, using martial law to suppress democracy and to crush local yearnings for a formal split from China.

Chiang Ching-kuo is respected for ending martial law in 1987 and for starting to loosen Mainlanders' monopolization of political power by allowing more native Taiwanese to serve in the KMT government, among them Lee, who later became his successor as president.

The bodies of the two late presidents currently lie embalmed in temporary mausoleums in Taoyuan County. Chen has recently instructed the military to prepare for their burial according to the State Funeral Law (國葬法) as requested by the Chiang family.

Commenting on whether the Taiwan interment of the Chiangs would mean they identified with Taiwan, Koo said "This has to be judged by history. It's not something people living today can decide."

Examination Yuan President Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文), a former Democratic Progressive Party chairman and a pioneer in promoting a new Constitution, a stance which made Yao a political dissident during the Chiangs' authoritarian rule, yesterday said the funeral service should be held in an economical manner.

Yao also opposed the idea that the country fly flags at half-staff on the day of the state funeral, saying "It would be too much to do that. The state funerals held when they died were already very huge in scale. There is no need to do that again. Even I had paid my homage to them before," Yao said.

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