The Presidential Office yesterday defended the government's decision to change the title of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall back to Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) Memorial Hall.
In a letter published by the Chinese-language China Times yesterday, Yunlin County Deputy Commissioner Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) dismissed the government decision as “hasty.”
Lee said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) lacked the “breadth of mind” that new US President Barack Obama had shown in trying to resolve political conflict in Washington.
Responding to the criticism, Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said in a press release that it was the government's responsibility to reinstate the hall's original title because the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government's move to change its name by passing an administrative order was “illegal.”
Wang said the Organic Act of the CKS Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂組織條例) was passed by the Legislative Yuan, and the former administration's move to rename the hall by having the Executive Yuan pass the Organic Regulations of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (台灣民主紀念館組織規程) had no legal bearing.
“An administrative order cannot override a law,” Wang said, adding that this was a fundamental principle in a society ruled by law.
It was the government's duty to defend the law and restore the name CKS Hall, he said.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Education announced the plan to reinstate the name CKS Hall by the end of July.
In 2007, the DPP government renamed the memorial as part of its efforts to remove monuments and rename places that commemorated dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).
The move was condemned by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-dominated legislature. The replacement of the name plaque at the hall led to scuffles between pan-blue and pan-green supporters.
Following the KMT's election victory last 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 CKS Memorial Hall and to scrap the Organic Regulations of the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.
Vice Minister of Education Lu Mu-lin (呂木琳) said in a press conference on Wednesday that the ministry had made the decision without first holding a public forum as promised by Minister of Education Cheng Jei-cheng (鄭瑞城) last August.
Lu said the forum was never held because experts attending another closed-door forum thought holding a public discussion on the hall issue could spark more conflict.
In the China Times letter, Lee said: “Although President Ma was elected with the support of the majority of Taiwanese people, he failed to make any comments to resolve political hostility in the nation and to achieve reconciliation between different ethnic groups.”
Wang said he respected Lee's “personal opinion,” but added that Ma had been steadily promoting reconciliation between different political camps and maintaining ethnic harmony.
Wang said Ma had also nominated a number of pan-green figures for the Control Yuan and Examination Yuan.
He said the president had invited DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to discuss national affairs, but Tsai had turned down the invitation on numerous occasions.
Wang urged Lee to advise Tsai to accept Ma's invitation so they could sit down and discuss cooperation for the sake of the nation.