The examination of past authoritarian rule as part of the transitional justice program should be carried out without commemorating the achievements of former presidents Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), because the examination is aimed at revealing state violence during their authoritarian rule, Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said at a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee yesterday.
Cheng was debating the legacy of the two former presidents with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers, who asked the Ministry of Culture (MOC) to give due credit to the former presidents while examining their human rights violations.
KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) asked Cheng and Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) to name three achievements of the two presidents, but both refused to do so, saying that enough of their achievements have been taught through state education.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
“Examining the truth is not about comparing their achievements with wrongdoings, but to discover the truth about persecution,” Cheng said.
Chen criticized what he described as the ministry’s and the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) “one-sided historical perspective,” as the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice (促進轉型正義條例), which was passed on Tuesday last week, does not address the injustices done to Aborigines and those committed during the Japanese colonial era.
The DPP has also failed to appreciate the KMT’s efforts in defending the nation and preserving National Palace Museum artifacts, Chen added.
Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) also questioned the act’s failure to address Aboriginal issues.
Citing DPP Legislator Rosalia Wu’s (吳思瑤) comments on Saturday that the act is part of “third wave democratization” and therefore does not include the more remote issue of Aboriginal transitional justice, Chin said the DPP is deceiving and alienating Aboriginal people.
“Screw your third wave democratization,” Chin said.
Cheng said to review the history of authoritarian rule should not involve the commemoration of the achievements of former presidents, but should instead seek to reconstruct history from the perspective of the victims of past persecutions.
“Do Europeans commemorate Hitler’s achievements when dealing with the Holocaust?” Cheng asked.
Considering the proposals to repurpose and rename the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the MOC will not unilaterally decide its future functions, but will instead conduct a five-day forum next year to invite discussions about the proposals.
The MOC will then propose a draft bill to reinvent the memorial hall based on opinions collected from the forum, Cheng said.
“The bottom-up consensus-forming process should not be the same with the top-down authoritarian decisionmaking process that authorized the construction of the memorial hall. The rights to interpretation and decisionmaking should be returned to the public,” she said.
The MOC will also preserve 45 historic sites where political persecution took place and launch an educational program centered on those historic sites, the minister said.
Transitional justice cannot be reduced to renaming roads and schools or misinterpreted as political confrontation — it is to compensate victims and achieve reconciliation, she said.
While there are 29 schools in the nation named after Chiang Kai-shek and another five named to laud his longevity, Pan said that whether they should be renamed depends on democratic discussions among school faculties, students and alumni.
The democratic consensus-forming process will be the most meaningful achievement during the course of campus transitional justice, Pan added.
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