Sun, Apr 01, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Thousands protest anti-Chiang campaign

DOUBLE STANDARD While panning the DPP's actions against the dictator as an election strategy, the KMT used the rally to build support for the upcoming polls

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Shouting "Long live Chiang Kai-shek [蔣介石]," thousands of protesters yesterday joined the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in a demonstration voicing recognition of Chiang's contributions to Taiwan and denouncing the government's anti-Chiang campaign.

Led by former KMT chairman and presidential hopeful Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and former KMT acting chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), the protest traveled from Ketagalan Boulevard to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall before returning to the boulevard.

Protesters, many of them wearing blue or red, carried portraits of Chiang and Sun Yat-sen (孫中山) and protest signs and waved national flags in the rally.

"President Chiang was our leader, and he did a lot of things for this country. I won't allow the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] to eliminate his contributions," a veteran surnamed Chang (章), who declined to give his full name, said yesterday during the protest.

Many of the protesters were war veterans like Chang, and alumni from the Military Academy, a military school founded by Chiang, also turned out.

After the crowd returned to the Ketagalan Boulevard, video clips documenting life in the 1950s and 1960s and statues of Chiang being removed or damaged were shown on a big screen.

While only a few hundred protesters remained at the rally after the march, the atmosphere reached a climax when Ma appeared on the stage, urging the government and the public to recognize Chiang's contributions to the nation.

"We stand here to extend our support to Chiang as he made a great contribution in restoring, defending and developing Taiwan," Ma said to the rally.

Amid cheers of "Go, go Ma Ying-jeou," the KMT presidential hopeful acknowledged that Chiang should be held responsible for the 228 Incident, the White Terror era and the enforcement of martial laws, but also said that Chiang's contributions should not be overshadowed by his mistakes.

"He was not a saint, and the mistakes he made are known to history. Still, we can't deny his contributions," Ma said.

In response to DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun's remarks that the government should cancel the holidays commemorating Chiang's birth and death, Ma denounced the DPP for failing to focus its efforts on improving the people's livelihoods instead.

"A responsible government should do more than just try to revise conceptions about historic figures," he said.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) joined Ma's criticism, urging the administration not to create ethnic clashes while ignoring what they said was the nation's declining competitiveness.

"If the anti-Chiang Kai-shek campaign could create harmonious ethnic relationships and help Taiwan to get more international recognition, then we wouldn't mind. But that's not the case," Wang said.

While criticizing the DPP for initiating the anti-Chiang campaign as an election strategy, the KMT also took advantage of the protest for campaigning purposes, as both Wang and Ma urged the protesters, who were primarily pan-blue supporters, to help the KMT to win the upcoming legislative and presidential elections.

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