President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promised to uncover the truth behind the 228 Incident and said the government should apologize for its past mistakes to eliminate hatred in society.
“I believe we should face the 228 Incident and history, and focus discussions on the issue itself. We should eliminate the hatred and feel sympathy for each other,” Ma said yesterday when attending a symposium at Academia Sinica.
“The truth should be made public, regardless of the controversy it may cause. [Revealing the truth] gives families of the victims the justice they deserve and is what a responsible government should do,” Ma said.
Ma said the government began its efforts to acknowledge the mistakes and offer public apologies over the incident under former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) administration, and he expected the government’s acknowledgment of its mistakes to bring social reconciliation.
Several family members of those murdered, however, erupted into a war of words shortly after Ma left.
Lin Li-tsai (林黎彩), a 228 victim family member, condemned the organizers for refusing to let her inside the symposium during Ma’s speech. She also urged the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to return its party assets to the public.
Lin’s remarks were not welcomed by other participants, who urged her not to politicize the issue.
Also yesterday, Ma reaffirmed that the government would continue to support the operations of the 228 Memorial Foundation.
Last month, the legislature passed a motion proposed by KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) to cancel the NT$300 million (US$8.6 million) budget for the 228 Memorial Foundation, saying that the Act for Handling and Compensation for the 228 Incident (二二八事件賠償及處理條例), which created the foundation, was a temporary law and should have been abolished seven years after it’s enactment in 1995.
Hung’s move met with strong criticism from pan-green politicians and 228 victims’ families.
“The 228 Memorial Foundation is not only about handing out compensation — it is also researching the incident’s history and educating people about it,” Ma said at a ceremony to inaugurate a special exhibition at the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum. “Therefore, the foundation’s operations should continue.”
“As most of the survivors of the 228 Incident have passed away, it’s time for us to find out the facts about the 228 Incident without the involvement of personal emotions,” Ma said.
Ma also said that he would keep his campaign promise to establish a national 228 memorial museum.
“But this should be done only after a law is created to provide a legal basis for the museum’s budget,” he said.
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