President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended a series of activities organized by the Presidential Office to celebrate the 100th anniversary of late president Chiang Ching-kuo’s (蔣經國) birth.
Ma said the activities were not aimed at reinstating dictatorship, but to commemorate Chiang’s contribution to Taiwan, and remember his wisdom and foresight that made Taiwan a place that was freer, more democratic and more prosperous.
“Some have questioned why we honor a person from the authoritarian era,” he said. “My answer is that those who read the classical Chinese historical records of Zi-zhi Tong-jian [資治通鑑] do not necessarily support monarchy.”
Zi-zhi Tong-jian chronicled the Chinese dynasties from 403BC to 959AD, after the works were compiled by the Chinese politician Si-ma Guang (司馬光), who lived from 1019 to 1086.
“No one is perfect. We all owe him [Chiang] appreciation and gratitude,” Ma said while attending the opening ceremony of an exhibition at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall commemorating Chiang’s 100th birthday.
During the seven years he spent as Chiang’s English secretary and interpreter, Ma said he was impressed by Chiang’s leadership, clean government, economic policy and political reform.
For a man who spent 12 years in the Soviet Union, Ma said Chiang, who once joined the communist party, deserved great respect for his political wisdom in pushing political and democratic reform in Taiwan.
Chiang, who served as president from 1978 to 1988, died in 1988, a year after the lifting of martial law, the ban on the organization of political parties and newspapers. Also one year before his death, Chiang allowed people in Taiwan to visit their relatives in China.
Ma wrote the introduction to a brochure released for the occasion yesterday, in which he called for an end to political infighting as a necessary response to change in China.
Political parties must acknowledge that both the pan-blue and pan-green parties played a role in the “Taiwan miracle” and must make a concerted effort to create the future of Taiwan, he wrote.
Ma said Taiwan must look at change in China with more optimism, adding that Beijing had engaged in pragmatic economic construction with nationalistic fervor and that Taiwan must respond.
While some have expressed concerns about his liberal cross-strait policy, Ma said Taiwan has nothing to fear if its democratic politics were bona fide.
“Maybe the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] could force Taiwanese to bend to its political will, but the Chinese people could also demand that the CCP reform the country based on Taiwan’s democratic achievements,” Ma said.