The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday criticized President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) decision to unfreeze the budget for the 228 Memorial Foundation, calling it insincere.
“It is clear the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] has boycotted issues related to the 228 Incident because of its ideology and Ma Ying-jeou’s decision to unfreeze the 228 foundation budget was only made because victims’ families were mulling a protest against him over the issue on the eve of 228 Memorial Day. I think Ma’s decision was insincere and hypocritical,” DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told reporters at a press conference yesterday.
Ma on Sunday promised to continue funding the 228 Memorial Foundation with an annual budget of NT$300 million (US$9.2 million) after the legislature, dominated by the KMT, froze last year’s budget and then refused to grant a budget for this year.
Ma, who has long sought support from 228 Incident victims, said the government would make up for the previous cuts by providing an annual budget starting next year.
The president also asked the Cabinet to apply to the legislature to unfreeze the 2008 budget.
DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) told a press conference the KMT government should fund the 228 Memorial Foundation with the whole budget of NT$1.5 billion at once and allow the foundation to operate independently if Ma really wanted to compensate 228 Incident victims.
If Ma is involved in the foundation’s operation, he and his party will be able to manipulate it, Lee said.
Although Ma was making an effort to compensate 228 victims, he and the KMT still idolized the prime culprit behind the killings — dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) — and his decisions to reopen the Chiang Kai-shek mausoleum at Tzuhu (慈湖) and propose changing the name of National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall back to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall was proof of this, Lee said.
DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said Ma decided to continue funding the 228 foundation to win more votes in elections.
Meanwhile, the KMT caucus yesterday threw its support behind Ma’s promise to continue the foundation’s funding, but a KMT legislator who previously proposed freezing the foundation’s budget expressed reservations.
At a press conference, the KMT caucus said it would respect and support the president’s call.
KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), who was present during the media conference, said the Legislative Yuan could discuss whether to unfreeze the foundation’s budget in the current spring session.
The 228 Incident refers to an uprising against the KMT that began on Feb. 27, 1947, and was followed by a bloody crackdown, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.
However, KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), who proposed last year to freeze the foundation’s budget request, said the government should instead review whether the foundation had achieved its mission of promoting harmony between different ethnic groups.
“Is it really trying to bridge the gap between different ethnic groups or trying to incite conflict and hatred each time Feb. 28 approaches? [If so], it is meaningless to continue to fund the foundation,” Hung told reporters.
When asked for comment on the government’s plan to reinstate the plaque bearing the title Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall by July, Wu said the government should prevent conflict while returning the plaque to the hall.