Sat, Aug 08, 2015 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: Chiang Kai-shek statues become targets as Taiwanese confront nation’s history


Chiang’s public profile was steadily eroded under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration from 2000 to 2008, with statues removed and street names changed.

Traditionally Beijing-skeptic and pro-independence, the DPP changed the name of the nation’s main airport from Chiang Kai-shek International Airport to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and dropped his memorial day as an official holiday.

Schools were asked to stop singing songs portraying him as a “national savior” and “great world leader.”

However, some iconography survived. In March, Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) of the DPP ordered the removal of Chiang statues from 16 schools.

“Chiang’s statues have political implications and are very controversial. They should be removed,” Lai said.

They were sent to a museum in Taoyuan which also houses Chiang’s mausoleum. In recent years, it has become a graveyard of unwanted Chiang icons, with 218 statues currently on display. Officials there expect numbers to rise as more are discarded.

Three Taiwanese presidents, including Ma, have apologized to the families of the 228 Incident victims. They were given compensation after a government investigation said that Chiang “should bear the biggest responsibility” for the incident.

Yet, bitterness remains.

“The transition of justice has not been completed,” Taipei-based rights lawyer Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) said. “Despite a democracy, the remnants of the authoritarian ruling, like Chiang’s statues, still stand.”

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