Despite growing public awareness of transitional justice, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday urged the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration to respect people’s admiration for former presidents Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國).
Wu made the remarks when paying tribute to the younger Chiang at his mausoleum in Taoyuan yesterday morning, one day before the 30th anniversary of his death and as part of a series of memorial events organized by the KMT that began yesterday.
“No political party can erase the two Chiangs’ contributions to the nation. We should forever harbor feelings of respect and cherish our memories of them,” Wu said.
The most significant contribution made by Chiang Kai-shek is that he led the Republic of China (ROC) army to victory in the eight-year Second Sino-Japanese War, accomplishing his mission to recover Taiwan, Wu said.
In addition, Wu said the elder Chiang managed to find during tumultuous times a base for the ROC’s Chinese Cultural Renaissance movement and he introduced a series of important policies, including launching the “375 rent reduction” initiative and implementing a nine-year mandatory education system in 1968.
Under the “375 rent reduction” initiative, launched in 1949, tenant farmers had to pay no more than 37.5 percent of their annual harvest to their landlord. Prior to that, they often had to pay more than half.
The younger Chiang was loved and revered because he implemented the Ten Major Infrastructure Projects in the 1970s, as well as lifting martial law and the ban on military veterans visiting their families in China in 1987, Wu said.
The achievements mean the public would always afford the level of respect deserved by the two Chiangs at their mausoleums, Wu said.
“As long as their mausoleums are not extravagant and allow people to pay their respects, we should not consider the option of closing them down,” Wu said, urging the DPP to respect the public’s admiration for the two late presidents.
There have been calls for the removal of the ceremonial guard at the two mausoleums following last month’s passage of the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice (促進轉型正義條例), which requires the erasing of memorials to authoritarian rulers in public spaces.
The two Chiangs are widely considered dictators who ruled Taiwan under a party-state system for 40 years, with the elder Chiang being estimated by historians to be responsible for the death of 10 million people.
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