Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) yesterday obstructed the passage of a draft law to establish a national human rights museum that the Cabinet approved in July.
The bill should be put aside until the promulgation of laws concerning the promotion of transitional justice, Wang said.
Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) made an emotional plea for urgent passage of the draft, citing the deaths of Tsui Hsiao-ping (崔小萍), Chen Meng-ho (陳孟和) and Su Yu-peng (蘇友鵬) this year, all of whom lived in the Martial Law era.
The museum is important for the consolation of the memories of remaining survivors of that period, Cheng said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said that as the rank of the museum curator is lower than that of sub-ministerial institution heads, he plans to propose an adjustment to the curator’s rank.
Foreign visitors are likely to question why the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall celebrates a leader who is presented as an authoritarian dictator at the human rights museum, he said, adding that the curator must be sufficiently ranked to handle the issue.
Cheng said that promulgating the law is the only remaining step to establishing the museum, as exhibits have already been designed and a preparatory office has been established.
She said the memorial hall should see a transition and the rank of curator raised at the same time.
The proposed museum has consistently encountered obstructions from the KMT caucus since the DPP first established the museum’s preparatory office in May 2005, DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said.
When then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) signed two UN human rights covenants in the run-up to his re-election in 2009, then-Council for Cultural Affairs Minister Emile Sheng (盛治仁) also said that a preparatory office was needed, Ker said.
The need for the museum already has a consensus across pan-blue and pan-green camps, Ker said, adding that the laws for the museum and transitional justice promotion should be passed at the same time.
Both laws are about facing up to historical facts, he said.
KMT Legislator John Wu (吳志揚) said he supports passing the laws, but does not understand why the museum is being established under the Ministry of Culture.
Cheng said the responsibility for the preparatory office was assigned to the ministry during a 2010 Ma administration reshuffle and the office was formally established on Dec. 10, 2011.
The Legislative Yuan on Oct. 22, 2010, decided that the museum should be a sub-ministerial institution that would oversee museum facilities on Green Island (綠島) and in New Taipei City’s Jingmei District (景美).
The museum is not just a building, but rather an institution, Cheng said, adding that the institution would preserve the memories of those who suffered political persecution, as well as promoting human rights education.
The museum’s establishment as a sub-ministerial government institution would give it access to more government funds and resources in line with its importance to a democratic society, she said.
“Through the museum the government can honor its commitment to reflecting on the White Terror era,” Cheng added.
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