President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday downplayed criticism of his China policy by a family member of a victim of the 228 Incident, saying Taiwan was a free and democratic society where everybody was entitled to his or her own opinion.
Addressing a ceremony for the opening of a new exhibition at the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum in downtown Taipei, Taiwan 228 Peace Association secretary-general Chang Chiu-wu (張秋梧) said all political parties must respect history and the 228 Incident, regardless of who is in power.
“It is a known fact that dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) cracked down heavily on Taiwanese and that Chiang must be identified as the perpetrator,” she said. “The wound must be healed, but the descendants of ‘Mainlanders’ do not necessarily have to bear the original sin.”
Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times
“Please allow me to tell you something, Mr President: We could not agree less with your China policy,” she said.
The 228 Memorial Museum was reopened to the public after a 10-month, NT$30 million (US$1 million) renovation project in time for the 64th anniversary of the 228 Incident on Monday next week.
The 228 Incident refers to the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government’s bloody crackdown on demonstrators under Chiang’s administration after a woman was beaten for selling contraband cigarettes in Taipei on the night of Feb. 27, 1947.
The beating sparked nationwide disorder and the slaughter of tens of thousands of people at the hands of KMT troops.
The KMT did not acknowledge any mistakes or offer public apologies for the incident until former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) administration. Ma has promised to put greater effort into uncovering the truth of the incident since taking office, and a national museum on the 228 Incident is scheduled to open in Taipei next Monday.
Ma, who spoke after Chang, said he did not mind her criticism because Taiwan was a “free and democratic society where people can express their opinions freely.”
“In the end, we will make the final decision through a democratic mechanism,” he said.
To commemorate the 228 Incident, Ma said the administration must make efforts at redress and face the mistakes made 64 years ago.
“What is more important is to prevent any similar incident from happening again,” he said. “The key lies in a free and democratic society so everybody has the opportunity to voice his or her opinion.”
The museum was established in 1997 when former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was Taipei mayor. Ma said some had speculated that he would get rid of any museum display putting the KMT in a negative light after he was elected Taipei mayor in 1998.
“But I didn’t,” he said.
Ma said similar atrocities occurred elsewhere. Taking Germany as an example, Ma said Germans faced up to the history of the Nazis after World War II and changed the world’s perception of the country.
The German government -honestly dealt with its past, apologized to the victims and their families and admitted the mistake they made, he said.
“Frankly speaking, not many countries can do that,” he said. “Some countries decide to erase their past rather than face it. The Republic of China government, however, chooses to face its past.”
Over the years, several measures have been adopted, he said, including apologizing, admitting mistakes, erecting a memorial statute, enacting a special law to offer compensation to victims and their families, and designating Feb. 28 as a national holiday.
After attending various events in commemoration of the incident, Ma said he realized that only by honestly facing history could people talk about the incident rationally and that it was important to empathize with victims and their families.
BLUE WAVE: The KMT’s Chiang Wan-an defeated the DPP’s Chen Shih-chung and is to become Taipei mayor, while President Tsai Ing-wen stepped down as DPP chairperson after many of the party’s candidates, handpicked by the leadership, performed poorly The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday flipped key mayoral seats in Taipei, Taoyuan and Keelung, and won control of 13 out of 22 cities and counties in the nine-in-one local elections. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) last night resigned as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson over a poor showing by the party’s candidates, who were handpicked by the DPP leadership rather than chosen through primaries. The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) won its first high-profile race with Hsinchu mayoral candidate Ann Kao (高虹安) defeating Shen Hui-hung (沈慧虹) of the DPP with 45.02 percent of the vote to Shen’s 35.68 percent. Voters were choosing more than
CAUTION: Wearing a mask in crowded places and for people with chronic illnesses or allergies can help prevent COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, the CECC said The mask mandate for outdoor settings is to lifted on Thursday, and the weekly cap on international inbound travelers is to be removed on Dec. 10, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said at its regular news conference yesterday. The center also announced that starting from Friday, children aged five to 11 can receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster, and that rules for visiting hospital patients are to be partially eased from Dec. 10. While wearing a mask will no longer be mandatory outdoors, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝) reminded the public that it would still be required
ANALYSIS: The local elections showed that the KMT is a competitive player, but needs to work at changing its image regarding China, experts said The nine-in-one local election results would bolster the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), but are unlikely to have a major effect on the 2024 presidential election, when cross-strait issues are back in focus, political commentators said. In Saturday’s elections, the KMT won 13 of the 21 cities and counties up for grabs, including four of the country’s six biggest metropolitan areas, where nearly 70 percent of the population lives. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lost three of the seven cities and counties it held, although it gained Penghu County. Its poor results prompted President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to announce her resignation as party
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: China might impose a blockade, conduct limited force operations, use an air and missile campaign, or resort to an invasion, the report said The US Department of Defense has identified four possible military courses of action that China could take against Taiwan, but did not offer any guess on when Beijing might be ready to act. In an annual report to the US Congress released on Tuesday titled Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2022, the department gave a broad overview of China’s military capabilities, strategy, ambitions and intentions. The report devoted significant space to developments related to Taiwan, against which it said China had intensified diplomatic, economic, political and military pressure last year. For example, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)