President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday praised Taiwanese democracy pioneer Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水) for his dedication to the country and promised to defend Taiwan’s dignity and promote “Taiwan identity” as a way to continue the Chiang’s legacy.
Speaking at an event in Taipei commemorating the 80th anniversary of Chiang’s death, Ma said Chiang had enlightened Taiwanese society with his non-violent fight for democracy and insightful ideas, including his campaign against opium, and called on the public to remember his legacy and place in history.
Chiang, from Yilan County, was one of the leading political and cultural figures in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period.
He also founded the nation’s first political party, the Taiwan People’s Party, and together with other intellectuals established the Taiwan Culture Association in October 1921. Its aim was to awaken Taiwanese consciousness through cultural enlightenment.
Chiang was imprisoned more than 10 times for defying orders during Japan’s rule and died of typhoid in 1931 at the age of 41.
In recognition of Chiang’s role in resisting the Japanese colonial regime, the Taiwanese government last year issued a set of commemorative coins engraved with his image.
“These actions seek to ensure that Taiwan remembers the contributions Chiang made to the country,” Ma said.
Chiang’s famous phrase “all compatriots must unite; unity is powerful” is a reminder of the importance of striving to bring Taiwanese together, Ma added.
As part of a wider effort to promote Chiang and other pioneers of Taiwanese democracy, Ma said the KMT has a portrait of Chiang at its headquarters to remind members of the importance of history.
The Council of Cultural Affairs is also to rename a performing arts hall at the Center for Traditional Arts in Yilan County the “Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Hall” in October to commemorate the pioneer, Ma said.
Chiang’s eldest son, 100-year-old Chiang Song-hui (蔣松輝), attended the commemoration and said that he approved of the Ma administration’s efforts to honestly face history, but he also said he expected the government to do more to defend democracy in Taiwan.
Additional reporting by CNA