Thu, Feb 01, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Former premier’s home reopens after restoration

By Shen Pei-yao and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Chang Jih-ming talks at his Taipei home on Jan. 17 about how he followed warlord-turned-premier Yen Hsi-shan to Taiwan in 1949.

Photo: Shen Pei-yao, Taipei Times

Former premier Yan Hsi-shan’s (閻錫山) residence on Yangmingshan (陽明山) has been reopened to the public after restorations by the Taipei City Government Department of Cultural Affairs, and 88 year-old Chang Jih-ming (張日明), one of Yan’s aides, was there for the opening.

Nicknamed the King of Shanxi, Yan was a leading Jin (晉) faction of warlords prior to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) unification of China with its Northern Expedition.

Yan retired to the residence with several of his trusted aides after Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) in 1950 announced that he would be resuming his duties as president.

Chang Jih-ming said that he had served under Yan’s command starting when he was 15 years old and if Yan had not brought him to Taiwan: “I would have lost my life and not lived to see 88.”

When asked about his hometown in Shanxi Province, Chang said: “I don’t have a family. It is just me.”

His older brother and sister-in-law lived in China, but they never met, he said.

“Even if we met on the road he would not recognize me,” Chang Jih-ming said.

On Jan. 17, Chang made a special trip to see the restored residence.

He became emotional when he saw the familiar footpaths near the residence.

In the 58 years since Yan passed away, Chang said he would visit Yan’s tomb and ensure that it was tidy, but with his advancing age he had to reduce the number of visits.

“There were 50 of us who came with him [from China],” Chang said, adding that the other aides had all passed away and he was the only one left.

Leaning on helpers, Chang slowly walked to Yan’s tomb, but was unable to climb the steep steps.

He sat, looking at the tomb.

“The sight brings tears to my eyes and I could not help but remember the past,” he said.

Chang said he was touched that the Department of Cultural Affairs has helped restore the residence to its former state.

An exhibition of Yan’s manuscripts, collection and life history is on at the residence until April, the department said.

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