The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday gave its full support to the Taipei City Government's latest plan to rename a section of Ketagalan Boulevard directly in front of the Presidential Office as the "Anti-Corruption Democracy Square," and pledged to continue to push its "anti-corruption" referendum.
"We support Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to act in accordance with the law and to face challenges from the central government," KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said at the KMT's Central Standing Committee meeting.
Condemning the central government for being "sneaky" in renaming the Memorial Hall, Wu called on other KMT-ruled local governments to join the Taipei City Government's move and set up "anti-corruption" monuments to stress the importance of integrity.
PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES
The Taipei City Government announced on Tuesday it would rename the section of Ketagalan Boulevard between Gongyuan Road and Jingfumen the "Anti-Corruption Democracy Square," but further details on the designs of name plates and whether the plates would cover the old ones have yet to be determined.
After the Ministry of Education (MOE) lashed out at the city on Tuesday for its removing the canvas and banners used to cover the name plate of the memorial hall, the ministry pledged to put the banners back on. Lee Yong-ping (李永萍), director of the department, sent ministry officials invitations yesterday morning to a negotiation meeting to seek consensus. But no ministry representatives showed up to the meeting later that afternoon.
Lee expressed regret over the central government's reluctance to communicate with the city government to resolve the issue, and accused the ministry of forgery by failing to request a maintenance construction permit from the city's building administration office.
According to Lee, the ministry's "Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall" Administration applied to the department last month for second phase maintenance of the hall as an excuse to set up a scaffold, which was later used to put on canvas and banners that covered the hall's name plate.
Lee said yesterday the department found out that the administration hasn't applied for construction permits since 2005.
"There was never a first phase construction on the hall, but the administration misled us into believing that it had completed a first-phase construction and was now asking for permission for further maintenance," Lee said, adding the department will allow the ministry to "correct its mistakes" by sending applications again by Monday.
Meanwhile, surrounded by camera-toting reporters, pan-blue lawmakers from the legislature's Education and Culture Committee proceeded to the Memorial Hall yesterday to confront hall officials on their own turf with threats to axe their budget.
What KMT Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) billed as a committee "inspection" of the hall, quickly became a dressing-down of top hall official Tseng Kun-ti (曾坤地) by pan-blue lawmakers.
Lee angrily quizzed Tseng under the hot sun as sweat-drenched reporters, and cameramen, jostled one another for space at the foot of the statue hall.
Several Chinese tourists looked on confusedly between the locked-up hall and crowd of screaming politicians.
"We have a memorial for [former dictator] Chiang Kai-shek because he's dead!" said characteristically prickly KMT Legislator Kuo Su-chun (郭素春). "Now that we have a memorial to democracy, does that mean democracy is dead, too?"
A visibly embarrassed Tseng led lawmakers into the back of the cordoned-off statue hall, which houses a copper statue of Chiang.
Signs issued by the hall under its new name inform visitors that the statue hall will be under renovation until June 20.
The project will continue beyond that date, Tseng said, adding that he wasn't sure when it would be finished. The refurbishment was necessary because of leaks, he said.
A tour through the bowels of the statue hall that, at one point, led the crowd up a pitch-black stairwell, revealed a sweeping renovation project. Bare drywall, ladders and the smell of paint were everywhere.
But as lawmakers milled into the dark, cavernous chamber housing the statue, they were surprised to see no signs of renovation. The huge, metallic likeness of Chiang sat serenely in shadow, untouched.
Shattering the eerie calm, Kuo yelled, "So why are the doors sealed? What are you afraid of?"
"Little rain outside," Tseng said, leads to "big rain inside."
Asked how much the renovation to fix the leaks would cost and where the funds would come from, Tseng said he wasn't sure.
Wagging fingers at Tseng, Lee and KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) vowed to pore over the ministry's budget to find out.
In related news, Demos Chiang (蔣友柏), 31, the great grandson of dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), was quoted as saying in a recent interview with the Chinese-language Next Magazine that the Chiang family did persecute Taiwanese people and the KMT should admit it and accept criticism.
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