Taipei took the first step toward declaring Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) Memorial Hall a cultural heritage site yesterday in a move sure to add to the controversy over the late dictator's influence on modern Taiwan.
Although the Memorial Hall is only 27 years old, the city government's Department of Cultural Affairs declared the CKS Memorial Hall a temporary historical monument in an attempt to protect the monument from alteration as the central government discussed a plan to demolish its outer walls.
The Cultural Heritage Preservation Law (文化資產保存法) describes temporary historical monuments as those whose cultural and historical values are still being assessed by the government. These monuments may not be altered for a year as the evaluation process goes on.
The review process for CKS Hall began yesterday with an on-site inspection by a team of six professionals, including architects, urban planners, academics in arts and scenery design.
The team concluded that "the park [surrounding the Memorial Hall] meets the criteria to be registered as cultural scenery, [and] certain buildings also meet the criteria to be registered as historical buildings," the department said in a press release after a meeting.
"The team of experts affirm that it [the CKS Memorial Hall] has important cultural values," Lin Hsu-fei (林絮霏), a department official said.
However, the process promises to be a long, drawn-out affair.
"We still have a year to discuss this issue," Lin said. "We'll hold public hearings, and all the opinions will be presented to a cultural heritage review committee which will make the final decision."
Meanwhile, city councilors said that declaring a 27-year old monument a temporary historical monument was politically motivated.
"Let politics be politics and let culture be culture," Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chia-ching (
"If the Department of Cultural Affairs rejected the Yixian Park as a historical monument, how does the CKS Memorial qualify as one?" Hsu asked.
The Yixian Park includes a guest house and a garden where Sun Yat-sen stayed during one of his visits to Taipei. The department rejected an application for the site to be designated as a temporary historical monument last year, Hsu said.