A statue of the Republic of China’s founding father Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) in Greater Tainan’s Tang Te-chang Memorial Park was toppled yesterday by members of the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan.
At about 1pm during a gathering of more than 100 members of the advocacy group, about 20 people wrapped ropes around the bronze likeness and dragged it to the ground in less than one minute.
The alliance’s secretary-general Lee Shu-ju (李述儒) said the Lions Club International, which donated the statue, had previously asked the city government to take it down because its base was damaged.
Lee said public safety inspired his group — which Lee said harbors no opinions against Sun. The life-size statue toppled as soon as members of the alliance gave the ropes a pull.
The alliance said in its defense that residents’ safety could not be put at risk, adding that transitional justice also could not wait, referring to controversy surrounding a statue of the park’s namesake, Tang Te-chang (湯德章).
Tang, a lawyer in Tainan during the 228 Incident, was arrested by Nationalist soldiers while burning a list of the names of participants in the local Settlement Committee.
Tang’s act saved the lives of a number of leading residents and students whose names were on the list and led to his own beating and execution.
The alliance said that some people find it shocking that Tang was honored with a small statue on the park’s periphery, while a full-size bronze statue of Sun was placed in the park’s center.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Greater Tainan councilors arriving at the scene after hearing about the event argued with alliance members while the group’s convener, Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴), was taken to a police station for questioning.
The KMT city councilors asked why the police did nothing to stop the alliance members. Greater Tainan Police Department Second Precinct Deputy Chief Liu Yi-tsung (劉怡宗) said two officers had tried to stop the alliance members, but the statue still came down.
The officers had immediately called for backup and gathered evidence, Liu said, adding that the police had not just stood by, but had done all they could under the circumstances.
Meanwhile, the city government’s Cultural Affairs Bureau director Yeh Tse-shan (葉澤山) professed incredulity at hearing the news, while bureau official Lin Wei-hsu (林韋旭) said follow-up action had to wait until they could determine the status of the statue as a historical relic, because the procedures for handling relics and non-relics differ.
Additional reporting by Tsai Wen-chu