Tue, Mar 15, 2011 - Page 2 News List

University to remove Chiang Kai-shek statue

CROSSED WIRES:An NTU professor said that visiting Chinese students do not take photos near the statue because they see it as a symbol of authoritarianism

By Hu Ching-hui  /  Staff Reporter

After years of discussions and pressure from the Taiwan Association of University Professors (TAUP), National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) recently announced it would remove a controversial statue of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) from its front gate.

University archives showed that up until 1977, the site where the statue was located was occupied by a fountain and that the statue that replaced it was produced by the university’s Department of Fine Arts.

Following the lifting of Martial Law on July 15, 1987, the university began discussing the eventual removal or relocation of the statue.

Martial Law was declared in Taiwan during the late stages of the civil war between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party on May 15, 1949, at a time when the KMT already controlled Taiwan.

Plans to remove the statue were opposed by faculty members and the move ended up in limbo.

The issue re-emerged three years ago when the TAUP petitioned school authorities to request that the statue be removed.

As Taiwan’s leading teacher training facility, the university should remove all traces of authoritarian idolatry, TAUP said at the time.

“Relics of authoritarian rule shouldn’t be placed at the front gates of a university,” TAUP president Tai Pao-tsun (戴寶村) said.

Former minister of education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) said that as Chiang was in large part responsible for the 228 Incident, a KMT crackdown in which as many as 20,000 people in Taiwan were killed, the meaning of education would be lost if schools presented him as an idol to be worshiped.

After years of debate, the university decided to relocate the statue, possibly to a special “statue park.”

NTNU professor and school services consultant Wu Wu-tien (吳武典) said that some still saw the statue as a symbol of authoritarian rule, adding that this was the reason visiting Chinese students did not take photos near the university gates.

A Department of Fine Arts student surnamed Chen (陳) said opposition to the statue’s removal was waning.

However, some university alumni said they suspected the decision stemmed from efforts to attract Chinese students, small numbers of whom are expected to start attending classes in Taiwan in the fall.

NTNU secretary-general Lin An-pan (林安邦) said the decision had no political significance.

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