Tue, Dec 11, 2007 - Page 3 News List

University rebuffs call to remove statue

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The president of National Taiwan Normal University yesterday rebuffed the Taiwan Association of University Professors' call to remove a statue of dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) from the campus. Guo Yih-shun (郭義雄) told the group to mind its own business.

Guo said he respected the professors' opinions, but the fate of the statue should be decided by the school's faculty and students.

Following President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) call for a purge of all relics related to Chiang, the association went to the country's most prestigious teacher training university to demand that its statue of Chiang be removed.

Association head Tsai Kuei-ting (蔡貴丁) said removing the statue would show the school's resolve to embrace a democratic Taiwan and bid farewell to the authoritarian era.

"Chiang was the main instigator of the 228 Incident and was responsible for the White Terror. History shows he was one of the most murderous dictators of recent times. He is definitely not a hero, but rather the biggest criminal in the history of Taiwan," Tsai said.

He urged the statue be removed immediately, before "more students are misled" on the real history of Taiwan.

Guo, however, said the statue should be regarded as a work of art, not a political icon.

"The statue was made possible by a school-wide fundraiser. It was completed by the students under the guidance of a fine arts professor and a sculpture master," he said.

"The artistic value of the statue is very high and it should not be politicized," Guo said, appealing to the public to view Taiwan's past with love and tolerance.

Sarina Lee, 22, a music major at the school, said the statue held no significance for her other friends because "it is just a lifeless object."

"I don't think people will be more patriotic once the statue is removed because no one really pays any attention to it. If the pan-green camp wants people to forget about Chiang, then they have failed because that's all people ever talk about now," she said.

Fine arts professor Yang Shu-huang (楊樹煌) said the school should auction the statue, which is estimated to be worth NT$100 million (US$3.09 million). The money could be used on a campus beautification project, while the statue would be owned by someone who would cherish it, he said.

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