Yilan County’s Chingho Temple’s management committee passed a resolution on Wednesday to take down the plaque given to the temple by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) three years ago, saying that Ma’s recent actions went against its spirit.
The plaque, on which the words Dun ren hong yi (敦仁弘義) are carved, symbolizes the spirit of a humble man walking the path of righteousness, with the first two words coming from the Book of Changes (易經), counseling people to keep an open heart so as to be accepting of everything under the heavens, and the second half coming from the History of the Later Han (後漢書) praising Three Kingdoms period political adviser Xun Yu (荀彧) for being virtuous by keeping on the path of righteousness.
The 200-year-old temple reveres the god Ma Ren (馬仁), who is said to have helped Tang Dynasty general Chen Yuanguang (陳元光), commonly known as the “Divine King who Conquered Zhangzhou” (開漳聖王), conquer the Min region of China, modern day Fujian Province.
Lu Wen-tung (盧文通), the member of the committee who initiated the proposal to take down the plaque, said that in 2010 the Presidential Office contacted the temple, saying the president wished to visit on Ma Ren’s birthday as he was, by dint of sharing the same surname, one of the god’s progeny.
“The Presidential Office sent us the plaque and we hung it up when the president visited the temple to offer prayers to the god,” Lu said.
However, in recent years Ma’s actions have been the complete opposite of the sentiments on the plaque, Lu said, adding that the plaque was also hung directly over the god’s head which was slightly disrespectful.
Lu said he had suggested that the plaque be removed, adding that he was surprised that the motion had met with almost unanimous approval.
“No one came to speak for Ma,” Lu said, adding that he believed that the president was not as great a man as he thought he was.
“Taking down the plaque only reflects the most recent trend in public opinion,” Lu said.
Meanwhile, Lin Lie-hui (林烈輝), a worker at a local metal working factory, said that he experienced profound emotions because he had hung the plaque and would be the one to take it down.
Three years ago the plaque had been hung over the main hall, and the event had been attended by many important people, Lin said, adding that it was somewhat sad that the plaque had to be taken down in disgrace.
We hope that Ma works harder and places the people first in his mind, focusing on the economy and improving it so everyone has jobs, and so younger people would feel more settled and marry, Lin said.
When asked by media whether the temple was concerned its actions would offend the president, the executive director of the committee You Che-fu (游徹夫) said that it did not really matter.
“One has to have some means to fill one’s belly, and if we can eat, anything else is secondary,” You said.
Lu said the plaque would be placed in the temple’s storage house and the committee would ask Ma Ren for directions as to how to dispose of it.