A bronze statue of Republic of China founding father Sun Yat-sen (孫中山) in a park commemorating a 228 Incident hero is inappropriate, pro-localization groups said as they started a petition calling for the situation to be rectified.
Northern Taiwan Society executive head Sherry Huang (黃淑純) said that last year, after attending a memorial service dedicated to the memory of 228 Incident hero Tang Te-chang (湯德章), she was shocked to see that Tang was only given a half-size statue on the periphery of the Tang Te-chang Memorial Park in Greater Tainan, while a full-size bronze statue of Sun was prominently placed in the park’s center.
The 228 Incident refers to an uprising in 1947 against the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime and the resulting brutal crackdown that left tens of thousands dead, and led to nearly four decades of martial law.
Tang was a lawyer in Tainan at the time. He was burning a list of names of people who participated in the activities of the local Settlement Committee when soldiers showed up to arrest him. He was severely beaten while he put up a fierce resistance in a bid to allow the list to be burned completely. He was executed the following day. His bravery saved the lives of a number of leading Tainan gentry and students, whose names were on the list.
“That such an absurd thing can happen, especially in Greater Tainan, a city that is considered by many Taiwanese to be a sacred land of Taiwan’s democracy, is shocking,” Huang said.
“The contrast between the two statues only serves to reflect that some Taiwanese lack sensitivity to maintain their ethnic pride,” she added.
She said a signature drive has been launched in a bid to provide Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) some public support as the group urged the Greater Tainan Government to correct the situation at the park.
Saying that “the park should be a park where the public can relax,” Taiwan Society President Wu Shu-min (吳樹民) added that “the statue culture, a remnant of past authoritarian regimes, should be abolished.”
The park should undergo general restructuring and suitable relocation of all statues, large or small, he said, adding that leaving a memorial stele in the place of a statue could also be an option.
Greater Tainan Lee Teng-hui Association for Democracy secretary-general Wang Shou-kuo (王壽國) also called on the city government to name March 13, the day of Tang’s death, as Tang Te-chang Memorial Day, in memory of his heroic deeds.