Family members and descendants of former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) yesterday stood alongside President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at an official ceremony to unveil a plaque that reads “Ching-kuo Hall” (經國廳) over the entrance to the Presidential Office Building’s auditorium.
Ma said the plaque was hung in the hope that people would realize the extraordinary contributions of the former president, adding that he hoped the nation would continue to uphold Chiang’s legacy of loyalty, spirit of reform and seeing the nation’s people as his own children.
Chiang was the hand behind the steadily improving economy and political reform of the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan following its defeat in the Chinese Civil War in 1949, Ma said.
The ceremony coincided with Youth Day, as Chiang had placed a lifelong emphasis on the importance of young people to the nation through his efforts to foster young talent, Ma said.
Under Chiang, the ROC saw the lifting of martial law, in place since 1949, and a gradual transition to the democratic republic the nation was meant to be, Ma said, adding that Chiang also improved cross-strait relations and presided over the Ten Major Infrastructure Projects (十大建設) that drove Taiwan’s economic success.
Chiang was a far-sighted politician who ended the authoritarian rule under which he was born, Ma said, adding that his lifting of a ban on veterans in Taiwan visiting their families in China greatly contributed to thawing relations across the Taiwan Strait.
Ma said that over his eight years as president, he has striven to follow Chiang’s tenet of “making Taiwan the primary concern [of policies] and [making policies that] benefit Taiwanese.”
Among those also in attendance at the ceremony were former premiers Hao Pei-tsun (郝柏村) and Liu Chao-hsuan (劉兆玄), as well as 99-year-old former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Chang Tzu-yi (張祖詒).
Chang was critical of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who removed a plaque from the auditorium’s entrance that read “Chieh Shou Hall” (介壽堂), written by then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) heavyweight Wu Chih-hui (吳稚暉). Chang called Chen’s removal of the plaque a “crude, shallow act” and lauded Ma for his restraint in not replacing the plaque immediately after assuming office in 2008.
Chang said he was honored to be invited to the ceremony, and that in his mind, Chiang was a great and wise leader, as well as a kind and benevolent elder, adding that Chiang always placed himself at the forefront when dealing with the nation’s needs.
“Wherever the people needed him, he was always there,” Chang said.
Chang suggested that Ma donate recordings of the process of naming and hanging the plaque over the auditorium to the Academia Historica.
Also in attendance were KMT chairperson-elect Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and KMT Acting Chairperson Huang Min-hui (黃敏惠), as well as Chiang’s daughter-in-law Chiang Fang Chih-yi (蔣方智怡), his son John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) and other members of the family, including Chiang Yu-sung (蔣友松) and Andrew Chiang (蔣友青).
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