Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers and victims of political repression yesterday backed Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) for promoting the transformation of Taipei’s Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall after she was slapped in the face by a former entertainer who opposed the policy.
“It was painful to see the minister insulted for believing in and working to promote transitional justice. We felt as if we had been slapped in the face ourselves,” 1950s White Terror Victims’ Association president Lan Yun-juo (藍芸若) said as she read out a joint statement by political victims and their families.
Her father, Lang Ming-ku (藍明谷), a then-32-year-old high-school teacher in Keelung, was arrested and executed without trial in 1951 for advocating social reforms.
Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times
While people have the right to freely express their opinions, “using physical violence or verbal insults is not only undemocratic, but a sign that authoritarianism continues to exist,” the statement said.
Cheng was on Tuesday slapped in the face by former entertainer Lisa Cheng (鄭心儀) at a Lunar New Year banquet for veteran entertainers hosted by Chinese Television System (華視).
Shortly after the attack, Lisa Cheng said that the minister “had it coming” for attempting to erase Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) from history and discredit his contribution to the nation.
“The incident showed that Taiwanese society has yet to outgrow its authoritarian past and that work to promote transitional justice began too late,” the statement said.
The transformation of the memorial hall and the removal of authoritarian symbols are required under the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice (促進轉型正義條例), and Cheng Li-chiun has worked to encourage open dialogue on both subjects when promoting related policies, it said.
The statement praised her commitment to transitional justice and condemned the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for “irrationally” blocking the Transitional Justice Commission’s budget last month.
“Transitional justice must not be further delayed or compromised,” the statement added.
The statement was signed by five civic groups devoted to the rights of political victims: the 1950s White Terror Victims’ Association, the Taiwan Association for the Care of the Victims of Political Persecution During the Martial Law Period, the Taiwan 228 Incident Care Association, the 228 Memorial Foundation and the Taiwan Association of Political Incidents During the Martial Law Period.
Tuesday’s incident was fueled by a misunderstanding of transitional justice, DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) said.
“Work to promote transitional justice has been erroneously dumbed down and described as an attempt to erase Chiang from history and divide society, when it is actually about discovering historical truth and seeking justice for past political victims,” she said.
The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is an obvious symbol of authoritarianism and its transformation is essential to promote transitional justice, DPP Legislator Chou Chun-mi (周春米) said, adding that the transformation would be “a democratic evolution, rather than erasing Chiang.”
While people can have different opinions on the issue, using violence is unacceptable, she said.
She urged the KMT to share responsibility for promoting transitional justice, saying it was a shame that KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) attempted to justify violence.
Shortly after the incident, Hau wrote on Facebook that the slap was a result of “the government forcing people to rebel” and that many people have been hurt by the government’s desinicization efforts.
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