Sat, May 06, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Security tightened ahead of Hatta statue unveiling

Staff writer, with CNA

A statue of Japanese hydraulic engineer Yoichi Hatta that was decapitated on April 15 is pictured yesterday after it was repaired.

Photo: Yang Chin-cheng, Taipei Times

Authorities are on high alert after repairing a statue of Japanese hydraulic engineer Yoichi Hatta following an act of vandalism.

The head of the bronze statue was allegedly removed by former Taipei city councilor Lee Cheng-lung (李承龍) on April 15.

Lee served on the council from 1994 to 1998 as a member of the New Party and had a reputation as an activist who pushed an agenda favoring unification with China.

Lee told investigators he vandalized the statue because he did not agree with the historical status afforded to Hatta.

The Chia-Nan Irrigation Association hired divers to look for the severed head in a reservoir, but have failed to recover it, despite an extensive search.

An identical bronze statue at Chi Mei Museum was used to provide a new head for the statue.

The Tainan Cultural Affairs Bureau on Thursday confirmed that repairs are nearly complete and the renovated statue is to be unveiled tomorrow in time for a commemorative ceremony the following day.

However, the city government has kept the statue covered and cordoned off the area to keep the public at a distance.

One city official said they were keeping the repaired statue under wraps in case someone else attempted to vandalize it.

Hatta, born in Ishikawa Prefecture in 1886, designed the Chianan Canal and the Wushantou Reservoir (烏山頭水庫) when Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule from 1895 to 1945.

The two projects are recognized as facilitating irrigation in the vast Chianan Plain (嘉南平原).

As pro-independence groups are scheduled to attend the ceremony at the reservoir on Monday, the 75th anniversary of Hatta’s death, and there is also a statue of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) at the reservoir, the authorities are planning to deploy additional security personnel.

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