A cemetery in Keelung yesterday installed a statue of former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) called “Taiwan Hero” for promoting “cross-strait harmony,” the organizer of the exhibit said.
The monument to the Chinese leader was unveiled yesterday morning by Chen Chen-feng (陳振豐), chairman of Unison Developing Co, the owner of the cemetery named the Keelung Embrace Cultural and Creative Park (擁恆文創園區), and Jo-Jing Advertising general manager Lin Kun-ming (林坤明).
Lin said that although the two sides of the Taiwan Strait might have different political ideologies, Wen helped create a lot of job opportunities for Taiwan during his term and the statue is recognition of his contributions to cross-strait tourism and exchanges.
The statue shows Wen holding a pair of shoes, signifying “harmony” (和諧, hexie), a homonym of the character for “shoes” (鞋).
Lin said Wen once said his biggest wish was to visit Sun Moon Lake and Alishan.
“Though the statue was not erected at Sun Moon Lake, but in Keelung, anyone who loves Taiwan and has made a contribution to Taiwan is a Taiwan hero,” he added.
Erecting a monument to a former Chinese leader before May 20 — the date of the presidential inauguration — may be highly sensitive, but what is most needed across the Taiwan Strait is harmony, he added.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應), who is based in Keelung, said he respects the right of private companies to plan their own exhibits, but calling Wen a “Taiwan hero” is “not entirely in line with Taiwanese belief and perception” and “a bit extreme.”
“It could be a positive move if it [the statue] serves as a reminder to Chinese leaders about the statements on cross-strait peace made by a former Chinese leader, unlike the recent unfriendly moves [made by Beijing], such as the Kenya incident,” Tsai added.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Keelung City Councilor Han Liang-chi (韓良圻) said he could accept statutes of Liao Tien-ting (廖添丁), a Robin Hood-like hero during the Japanese colonial period; Liu Mingchuan (劉銘傳), a governor of Taiwan during the Qing Dynasty; Wu Pao-chun (吳寶春), a world-renowned Taiwanese baker; or even Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕), the democracy activist who self-immolated for freedom of speech in 1989 — but not of Wen.
DPP Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) said on Facebook that he was furious when he first learned about the statue, but when he found out that the statue of the still-living Wen is in a cemetery, “I laughed.”
“Either the boss [of the cemetery] is extremely anti-communist or has a personal grudge against Wen,” he said.
However, those planning to see the statue might be in for disappointment.
Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) late last night said he called up Chen and suggested that he remove the statue, and that Chen agreed in light of the controversy it has caused.