The government moved another step toward changing the name of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall back to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall yesterday, although it remains tight-lipped about the plan.
At the weekly Cabinet meeting, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) instructed the Executive Yuan to withdraw the requests to abolish the Organic Statute of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂組織條例) and the note on the existence of the Organic Statute of National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (國立台灣民主紀念館組織規程) from the legislature.
Last year the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government renamed the memorial as part of its efforts to remove symbols commemorating dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石). The DPP also replaced the four-character inscription on the hall’s entry arch, dazhong zhizheng (大中至正), meaning Chiang’s “great neutrality and perfect uprightness,” to “Liberty Square” (自由廣場) and redecorated the hall.
The move was controversial because the changes were made without going through the legislature. The replacement of the inscription also saw scuffles erupt between pan-blue and pan-green supporters.
However, the DPP administration’s requests to amend the two statutes were put on the back burner by the legislature.
“Since the two statutes are still before the legislature and the legislature attached a resolution on the passed 2008 budget request that required funds earmarked for the hall be written under the name of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the government decided to withdraw the two statutes,” Executive Yuan spokeswoman Vanessa Shih (史亞平) said.
Shih denied the move was meant to restore the name of the memorial, saying that the Ministry of Education would not make a decision until it is able to reach a public consensus by holding citizen forums.
But Shih failed to explain why the government decided to retract the two statutes now if it it planned to keep the National Taiwan Democracy Hall name.
Asked to comment, Vice Minister of Education Lu Mu-lin (呂木琳) said “The name of the hall will be changed back to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall because [the name change] of the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall was never legitimized.”
“As for the rest of the issue, we will have to reach a public consensus through public forums,” he said.
Minister of Education Cheng Jei-cheng (鄭瑞城) said later that the ministry would hold the first public forum next Friday to discuss how to deal with the inscriptions on the hall and the front gate.
A decision will be made within six months, he said.
He said he would also invite several academics to discuss the matter at next week’s forum.