The Tainan City Council’s first meeting of the year was overshadowed by controversy yesterday, with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) seemingly nearly coming to blows over accusations by the KMT caucus that the city government was showing favoritism in its treatment of statues of Japanese engineer Yoichi Hatta and Republic of China founder Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙).
The KMT caucus said that Tainan Mayor William Lai’s (賴清德) response to the decapitation of a bronze statue of Hatta near the city’s Wushantou Reservoir (烏山頭水庫) contrasted starkly with his response after a statue of Sun in Tang Te-chang Memorial Park (湯德章紀念公園) was toppled in 2014.
The KMT said Lai showed partiality by promising to restore the Hatta statue within one week, while the Sun statue has yet to be replaced or restored.
Photo taken from Facebook
KMT Tainan City Council caucus secretary-general Wang Chia-chen (王家貞) said she would boycott council meetings “by any means” if the city government fails to completely restore Sun’s statue at its original site before May 8.
Tainan City councilor Tang Bi-a (唐碧娥) of the DPP said her KMT colleagues were merely taking advantage of the situation and putting on a show.
Tainan City Council Speaker Lai Mei-hui (賴美惠) of the DPP called a recess twice due to quarrels between the two caucuses.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, William Lai said no act of vandalism would be tolerated by the public.
Asked whether the decapitation of Hatta’s statue was prompted by the city government’s decision in 2015 to gradually remove all statues of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) from school campuses, William Lai said it would be inappropriate to speculate, as the Hatta case is still being investigated by the police.
William Lai said there was a misunderstanding over the Sun statue, which has been restored, but could not be placed at its original site, because the park is listed as a heritage site.
The city government is seeking to relocate the statue and the Tainan Department of Public Works is pursuing legal action against those responsible for pulling it down, William Lai said.
China Unification Promotion Party member Lee Cheng-lung (李承龍) on Monday said that he was involved in the decapitation of the Hatta statue.
Police said video surveillance appeared to place the former Taipei city councilor and a woman identified as Chiu Chin-i (邱晉芛) at the park.
The statue was commissioned by area residents and aides who worked under Hatta on the construction of a series of canals in the Chianan Plain (嘉南平原) and the reservoir.
Additional reporting by CNA
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