Contention for the 228 Memorial Foundation chairmanship has devolved into a dispute between academics and relatives of people who were killed in the 228 Massacre, sources from the foundation said, adding that if the chairmanship is put to a vote, it might have lasting effects on the foundation’s daily operations.
The foundation has been without a chairman since former chairman Chen Shih-kuei (陳世魁) stepped down after the inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on May 20.
The Democratic Progressive Party over the past month appointed National Chengchi University professor Hsueh Hua-yuan (薛化元); Academia Historica president Wu Mi-cha (吳密察); Academia Sinica associate research fellow Chen Yi-shen (陳儀深); Lin Li Tsai (林黎彩), who is a relative of a victim; and Na Su-phoh (藍士博), who started the annual Gongsheng Music Festival, as foundation board members.
According to sources, the Executive Yuan and the Ministry of the Interior are supporting Hsueh’s bid as chairman, while another faction, mainly comprised of the relatives of 228 Massacre victims, support acting chairman Hsu Kuang (徐光), who is also a relative of a victim.
The 228 Massacre refers to an uprising that began on Feb. 27, 1947, against the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government and the resulting brutal crackdown that left tens of thousands of people dead and led to the beginning of the White Terror era.
While Hsueh has a better chance of winning the chairmanship due to government backing, sources said that the inter-faction struggle might see the decision put to the vote on Friday next week.
Hsueh said he has been asked if he wanted the position, adding that the position should be in line with the foundation’s regulations and that he would respect the opinions of the board.
Meanwhile, Chang Chiu-wu (張秋梧), a victim’s relative, said that he “has no confidence in an academic becoming the chairman of the 228 Memorial Foundation,” referring to the long-delayed book The Compilation of Historical Data from the Secrecy Bureau on the 228 Incident (保密局台灣站二二八史料彙編) that is being compiled by Academia Sinica research fellow Hsu Hsueh-chi (許雪姬), who promised to unveil the truth behind the massacre.
Chang said he is skeptical of Hsu’s claims that the delay was caused by the workload brought by interpreting the raw data, as the direct publication of the information would create a social rift over the incident, adding that Hsu has been delaying its publication on purpose.
Academics do not pay respect to the opinions of the victims’ relatives and it is best that a relative become the foundation’s chairman, he added.
Hsueh denied Chang’s claims, saying that he is a long-time supporter of making historical files transparent and had launched petitions in an attempt to bring about transparency.
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