Thu, Jan 11, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ma reminisces on interactions with Chiang Ching-kuo

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Former president Ma Ying-jeou speaks at an event marking the 30th anniversary of Chiang Ching-kuo’s death at the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) headquarters in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday raised the curtain for a series of Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) events commemorating the 30th anniversary of the death of former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國).

Ma said his first close interaction with the late president was in 1962, when his family moved to a home on Taipei’s Changan E Road that was only 80m from where Chiang lived.

“I was only a seventh-grader in junior-high school at the time. One year, during the Lunar New Year holiday, me and a group of kids were playing with firecrackers on the rooftop and accidentally shot one of them into Chiang’s yard,” Ma said in a speech at a meeting of the KMT Central Standing Committee in Taipei.

To his surprise, Ma said Chiang’s aides who rushed to his house were polite and did not give them a hard time after realizing it was the doing of children.

Looking back at his time as Chiang’s interpreter, Ma said he started his first day on the job in 1981 determined to make a good impression, only to bump a tea table separating Chiang and a foreign dignitary due to his “slightly larger size at the time,” knocking a cup of tea over, Ma said.

“That was a really awkward moment,” he added.

The last time he met with Chiang was on Dec. 25, 1987, when Chiang, sitting in a wheelchair, attended an event commemorating Constitution Day that was overshadowed by a protest by the Democratic Progressive Party’s National Assembly members calling for legislative reform, Ma said.

“Chiang had this look in his eyes, as if he was saying: ‘How could you treat me like this after what I have done for Taiwan?’” Ma said, adding that Chiang died 19 days later and that he could never forget that look.

Ma’s speech was a precursor to three days of events to commemorate Chiang, who died at age 78 on Jan. 13, 1988, of cardiovascular disease.

The events include a tribute at Chiang’s mausoleum in Taoyuan tomorrow morning, followed by a memorial concert at Taipei’s Zhongshan Hall in the evening, KMT Culture and Communications Committee deputy director Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) said.

A large-scale memorial event is to take place on Saturday at the Taipei Hero House, with a running event scheduled for Sunday in New Taipei City’s Bitan area (碧潭), Hung said, adding that more details are to be announced today.

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