Commission outlines options for statues

TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE::A Cabinet representative appeared in court to defend the premier’s appointment of a new chair of the justice commission, after a KMT complaint

By Lee Hsin-fang, Wen Yu-te and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Fri, Nov 02, 2018 - Page 3

The Transitional Justice Commission is considering donating statues of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) to willing communities, repurposing them as art or replacing them with statues of locally born people, commission Acting Chairwoman Yang Tsui (楊翠) said on Wednesday.

There is more than one way to deal with authoritarian symbols such as statues of Chiang Kai-shek and former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), she said.

That could mean removing them, replacing them with statues of local historical or literary figures, converting them into installation art or giving them to former military dependents’ villages that might be interested in “adopting” them, she said.

While removing the statues would be an option, it would not be the only one, she said.

The commission would consult experts and other government agencies before deciding what to do with the statues, she added.

While speaking to reporters in Taipei, Yang also called for more social dialogue on the issue.

The commission is planning to host a series of forums nationwide after the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections, she said.

It would invite local residents to discuss the relationship between authoritarian symbols, the private sphere and everyday life, and ask local historians to explore the relationship between authoritarian symbols and historical memory, she said.

Through these discussions, the commission would gather ideas for dealing with the authoritarian symbols, she added.

There are more than 1,000 statues of Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan, the commission said in its latest update.

However, this is not a final number, as the Hualien County Government and the Keelung City Government have yet to report the number of Chiang Kai-shek statues in their jurisdictions, Yang said, adding that they are expected to do so after the elections.

In related news, a representative from the Executive Yuan appeared in court on Wednesday after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus applied for a provisional injunction to terminate the appointment of Yang as acting commission chair due to concerns over the legality of the move.

The KMT caucus said the regulations on the formation of the commission do not specify how an acting chairperson or deputy chairperson should be appointed.

The representative said Yang’s appointment by Premier William Lai (賴清德) last month was an internal personnel matter that the judiciary should not interfere with.

If the commission had no acting chairperson, it would be unable to carry on its daily activities, they said.

The presiding judge asked the representative which law requires a chairperson to be present when the commission meets, asking: “Is there no one else who can chair the meeting apart from the commission chairperson?”

As the representative did not give an answer, the court asked for a response within three days.