Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers have called on the incoming government to look into memorial ceremonies of uncertain origins observed by the state.
Memorial ceremonies have been held for those honored in the Martyrs’ Shrine in Taipei, as well as for the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi, 黃帝), the mythical ancestor of the Han Chinese, Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire, and Koxinga, the lawmakers said.
They said that the incoming government should look into the necessity of the ceremonies, adding that the Yellow Emperor and Genghis Khan have tenuous relations with Taiwan and that people’s views about Koxinga have been changing.
Ceremonies at the Martyrs’ Shrine are held by the Presidential Office on March 29 and Sept. 3, while the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for paying tribute to the Yellow Emperor ahead of Tomb Sweeping Day, the lawmakers said.
The ceremony dedicated to the Yellow Emperor used to be headed by the minister of the interior, but President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) began to lead the ceremony himself, they said, adding that he led the ceremony a total of six times.
The lawmakers said that the ceremony dedicated to Genghis Khan is organized by the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission every April, adding that commission ministers had been leading the ceremonies until this year, when they were replaced by Ma.
Ma has also been the leading figure in ceremonies dedicated to Confucius held by the Taipei City Government, the lawmakers said.
Koxinga ceremonies, which are held by the Tainan City Government, are led by the minister of the interior, they said.
DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said the more modern a society becomes, the less people care about such ceremonies.
“Particularly the Yellow Emperor and Genghis Khan. What do they have to do with Taiwan?” he said.
“Ma attended the ceremonies to ‘lead the prayer’ to relate to China,” Lee said, adding that when the Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Mayaw Dongi or former minister Paelabang Danapan were asked by the legislature’s Internal Affairs Committee about news concerning the Yellow Emperor ceremony, they did not identify themselves as “descendants of the Yan and Yellow emperors.”
While the ceremonies at the Martyrs’ Shrine, the resting place of people who died for the nation, are reasonable, honoring other figures with national ceremonies needs to be reconsidered, Lee said.
DPP Legislator Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄), who was acquitted after splashing white paint over the KMT emblem on the roof of the East Gate in Taipei, said such ceremonies are full of “big China consciousness” and lacks a Taiwanese perspective.
DPP Legislator Lai Rui-lung (賴瑞隆) said the government should make more effort to familiarize Taiwanese with the nation’s own history and culture.
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