Fri, Mar 03, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Democracy must decide statues’ fate, minister says

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Democratic procedures would be followed when deciding whether to remove statues of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) from school campuses, Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said yesterday, adding that it is inappropriate for schools to display authoritarian symbols.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Rosalia Wu (吳思瑤) questioned the appropriateness of keeping Chiang statues in schools during a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee.

She urged the ministry to issue a statement to encourage schools to remove such statues as part of efforts to promote transitional justice on campuses.

As campuses are an integral part of education, it is inappropriate for schools in a democratic nation to display any authoritarian symbols, Pan said.

The minister said he would ask schools, particularly universities, to facilitate discussions on the issue and take proactive steps to promote the values of transitional justice.

Three students and a fourth person on Tuesday were arrested for allegedly defacing a Chiang statue at Fu Jen Catholic University in New Taipei City and obstructing police officers, while statues at National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung and National Kaohsiung Normal University were defaced over the 228 Peace Memorial Day holiday, Wu said.

National Sun Yat-sen University president Cheng Ying-yao (鄭英耀) called the incident at his school a “learning process,” while National Kaohsiung Normal University president Wu Lien-shang (吳連賞) said that he “respected the expression of pluralistic opinions.”

Wu said that she was saddened to see that Fu Jen, her alma mater, allowed more than 50 police officers to enter the campus to deal with four people, since the university had security guards and military instructors on site at the time.

She asked Pan whether the decision was appropriate and whether the actions taken against the students were proportionate.

“As an overarching principle, troops and police officers must not enter schools without permission,” Pan said.

“The learning process is the most valuable part of education,” Pan said, adding that it was a pity the university did not turned the incident into a learning opportunity.

He called on the university to engage in dialogue with parents and students regarding the future of the statue to improve mutual understanding.

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