Mon, Jan 19, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Hall director says no legal problems if plaque reinstated

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

While keeping mum on whether he had received a directive from the minister of education regarding the replacement of the plaque on National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall’s main building, hall director Tseng Kun-ti (曾坤地) said yesterday that there would be no legal problem if the original plaque for the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall were reinstated.

The replacement would not constitute a violation of the law, Tseng said in a phone interview with the Taipei Times yesterday, noting the legislature never approved the draft organic act of the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (國立台灣民主紀念館組織規程), nor did it abolish the Organic Act of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂組織條例).

In 2007, the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government renamed the memorial as part of its efforts to remove monuments and rename places that commemorated former dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).

The move was controversial because the changes were made without the legislature’s approval. The replacement of the plaque at the hall led to scuffles between pan-blue and pan-green supporters.

Following the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) election victory in May, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) on Aug. 21 instructed the Executive Yuan to withdraw the former DPP administration’s request to abolish the Organic Act of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and to scrap the draft organic act of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.

A Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) report yesterday said Minister of Education Cheng Jei-cheng (鄭瑞城) had decided to replace the plaque following a resolution passed by the legislature on Tuesday. The story quoted Cheng as saying that the ministry would deal with the replacement in accordance with the law.

Cheng was also quoted as saying that the ministry would not change the “Liberty Square” inscription at the entrance to the hall, nor restore the former four-character inscription on the hall’s entry arch, dazhong zhizheng (大中至正).

Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠), the ministry’s secretary-general, and Chu Nan-hsien (朱楠賢), director of the ministry’s Department of Social Affairs, which supervises the hall, were both unavailable for comment yesterday.

Tseng said the hall management office would submit a “re-utilization” plan to the legislature, the Executive Yuan and the Council for Cultural Affairs if the ministry decided to pursue the replacement of the plaque.

Tseng said his office would require approval from the legislature, the Executive Yuan and the council in accordance with the Cultural Assets Protection Act (文化資產保護法) before it could remove the plaque because the hall was considered a historical site.

At a separate setting, DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) criticized KMT legislators’ passage of the resolution to restore the plaque at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Cheng said restoring the plaque without a public debate would be “very rude.”

“Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) was a dictator,” he said. “The KMT’s restoration of a memorial hall for him reflects the party’s yearning for a dictatorship and the old authoritarian era.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG

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