Former Sunflower movement leader Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) yesterday refused to bow to a portrait of Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) — dubbed the “nation’s founding father” by the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government — at the conclusion ceremony at the Chenggong Ling (成功嶺) training camp.
A source from within the camp said that when an officer asked Chen why he did not bow to Sun’s portrait like everyone else, Chen said that he would not take part in a personality cult, “and would not salute an idolized figure.”
National Conscription Agency (NCA) director-general Lin Kou-enn (林國演) said that although his behavior was inappropriate, he was not punished and left the camp at about 2pm after rumors circulated that Chen was banned from leaving the camp following the incident.
Lin said that bowing is customary and a sign of respect for the founder of the nation.
Chen’s refusal violated internal regulations, but the agency has not meted out any punishment, the director-general said.
Chen yesterday said on Facebook that he had left Chenggong Ling without difficulty.
The issue of whether Sun is the nation’s founding father has become controversial, with some academics and the Democratic Progressive Party saying that Sun’s status as “founding father” was a fabrication under KMT rule.
National Chengchi University Graduate Institute of Taiwan History director Hsueh Hua-yuan (薛化元) said at a news conference held by the Taiwan Association of University Professors in February that the public were influenced by the KMT’s “creation myth,” and due to the prevalence of KMT-authorized history materials, were unable to arrive at a correct understanding of history.
Hsueh said that while Sun was indeed a leader of the revolution that culminated in the Republic of China, he was only one of many revolutionaries trying to overthrow the Qing Dynasty, adding that the overthrow of the dynasty in 1912 was not achieved solely by the efforts of the KMT.
Aletheia University professor Chen Li-fu (陳俐甫) said that it was odd that the KMT should be allowed to dictate who was the founding father of the nation and prohibit discussion of the issue.
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