Wed, Mar 02, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Ministry confirms plan to privatize Martyrs’ Shrine

‘CAREFUL ASSESSMENT’:An MND official said that it would have to see if the proposal is feasible, while considering challenges as well as public opinion

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday said that an assessment is under way on the possibility of privatizing the operation of Taipei’s Yuanshan Martyrs’ Shrine, but added that it would be a lengthy process, with an initial evaluation having been completed last year.

Some people criticized the plan, saying it is a sacred site that has links to spiritual and military roots of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) party officials and supporters, who visit the shrine to pay homage to officers and soldiers who fought in modern China’s civil wars and revolutionary uprisings.

Officially known in English as the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine of the ROC (Republic of China), it is located in Taipei’s Dazhi area (大直) alongside a number of military office headquarters. Construction of the shrine began in December 1967 and was completed in March 1969, under then-president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).

MND spokesperson Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said the site is a place for solemn commemoration of heroes who sacrificed their lives for the nation, and therefore a privatization plan must go through prudent and thorough reviews, starting with feasibility studies.

Military officials said the proposal was made by the Ministry of Finance’s department of private participation promotion, which conducted a privatization feasibility study in consultation with the MND last year.

“The study was the first phase in the planning. We have to assess whether privatization would be feasible, while addressing possible obstacles and acknowledging public opinion,” Lo said.

“Only after careful assessment can a conclusion be reached, with the MND presenting an official report to the Executive Yuan and the relevant government agencies to finalize the plan,” Lo said. “This will take a long time, so it is still too early to talk about its conclusion.”

Lo said military honor guards at the shrine cannot be replaced, and they, along with biannual national ceremonies to pay homage to enshrined fallen soldiers, would not be affected by privatization plans.

“There are other issues to consider, such as the management of the shrine, cleaning of the site and the sale of souvenirs. However, the military honor guards cannot be replaced. Their value cannot be measured in monetary terms,” Lo said.

Due to its historic links to Chinese civil wars and revolutionary uprisings of the past century, the shrine has become an attraction for tourists from China and other nations, who visit the site to watch regular drills and ceremonial performances by the military honor guards.

Critics said the plan is simply intended to provide additional income for the government, and would be seen as a betrayal of principles, prioritizing business interests over the site’s symbolic status.

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