Mon, May 28, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Analysis: KMT's name change fight opens rift

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The fight over the name change of Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) Memorial Hall turned fiercer last week as the Ministry of Education and Taipei City Government clashed over whether it was legal to cover the monument's name plates with banners and canvas.

In addition to tearing down the banners and canvas put up by the ministry on Tuesday morning, the city government retaliated against the central government's renaming the hall "National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall" by announcing it would rename a section of Ketagalan Boulevard directly in front of the Presidential Office Building the "Anti-Corruption Democracy Square."

The move immediately won the full support of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and most pan-blue politicians, who hailed Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), son of retired general and former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村), for his "creative" tactics in defending dictator Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) legacy.

The KMT's move to counter the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government's name change, however, is likely to cost the party the respect and support of younger voters, analysts said.

"How can the KMT rename the boulevard `Anti-corruption Democracy Square' when it is marred by corruption? The party does not understand the meaning of transitional justice," said Lee Shiao-feng (李筱峰), a history professor at Shih Hsin University.

Transitional justice, a campaign intended to heal the wounds of the oppression and human rights violations that the nation saw during its decadeslong dictatorship, will not be successful unless the old regime formally recognizes past wrongdoings and removes symbols glorifying the dictatorship, Lee said.

"The KMT is ignoring the people's wish to rebuild a national identity and refusing to apologize for what it has done. The move can only result in a negative effect on its reputation," he said.

While pan-blue politicians rushed to defend Chiang, Demos Chiang (蔣友柏), the 31-year-old great-grandson of Chiang Kai-shek, said in a recent interview with the Chinese-language Next Magazine that the Chiang family had persecuted the people of Taiwan and the KMT should come clean.

"We can't keep living on past glories and refuse to accept criticism. Some of us must stand up and admit our past," he said in the interview.

Demos Chiang's remarks surprised pan-blue politicians, who struggled to interpret his words, while arguing that Chiang Kai-shek had paved the way for economic growth and fended off Communist invasion.

"No historical figures are perfect ... We should judge Chiang Kai-shek's merit fairly. In my view, he made more contributions than mistakes," KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said.

Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華), a political analyst and sociology professor at National Chengchi University, said Demos Chiang's comments reflected a general consensus among the public, especially among younger generations, that transitional justice should be pursued through a cooperative effort across party lines.

"Taiwanese now have the knowledge and wisdom to tell right from wrong and changing the name of CKS hall should not be a political issue," Ku said.

"The KMT's moves to defend Chiang Kai-shek simply show that its position is far from democratic," he said.

A younger KMT spokesperson, 31-year-old Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓), voiced his support for Demos Chiang's statement about his own family's history.

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