The Transitional Justice Commission is drafting a bill that would return ill-gotten assets to the families of wealthy businesspeople and landowners whose assets were confiscated during the White Terror era, the commission said on Monday.
The properties of political prisoners, such as businessmen Huang Tien-liang (黃添樑) and Liu Chuan-ming (劉傳明), who were accused of helping the Chinese communists, accounted for 60 percent of assets confiscated by the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government following the 228 Incident, it said.
A total of 177 people had their properties confiscated during the White Terror era, Formosan Political Prisoners’ Association honorary director-general Tsai Kuan-yu (蔡寬裕) said.
Photo: Chen Yu-fu, Taipei Times
Huang, former secretary-general of the Taiwan Federation of Commerce, was one of the biggest victims, and there was evidence that government agents had coveted his property, Tsai said.
The commission would submit a draft act this month, and would seek to compensate victims’ families either through the return of assets or monetary compensation, it said.
Confiscated assets were distributed by the KMT in four ways: They were added to the state treasury; given as rewards to those who filed reports incriminating others; given as rewards or expenditures to those who solved these cases; or — in the case of real-estate properties — used by government agencies or agents.
The commission looked at more than 500 cases of confiscated assets listed among records held by the Ministry of National Defense, including 300 that were only recently uncovered, it said.
The cases mainly involved people accused of breaching the Punishment of Rebellion Act (懲治叛亂條例), which has since been repealed, Tsai said, adding that some of the accused had no property that could be confiscated.
In 1949, Huang had gifted NT$3,000 to Taiwan Tribune cofounder Chen Chi-chang (陳其昌) to open a restaurant, but Chen instead lent the money to his colleague at the newspaper, Huang Pei-yi (黃培奕), Tsai said.
After Huang Pei-yi was tried as a communist spy, Huang Tien-liang was accused of aiding the communists.
There are still 188 real-estate properties confiscated during the White Terror era that remain in the government’s possession, Tsai said, adding that one of those is the now-abandoned Dingxing (鼎興) military barracks in Taipei’s Zhongshan District (中山).
The 3.2-hectare plot is one of the properties confiscated from Huang Tien-liang, he added.
Liu, another wealthy victim of political persecution during the White Terror era, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and had his various properties confiscated, after people he was associated with were accused of spreading communist propaganda.
In some of the cases victims had not even been given a trial before intelligence officials confiscated and occupied their property, Tsai said.
In his memoirs, former officer in the now-defunct Counterintelligence Bureau, Ku Cheng-wen (谷正文), said he had instructed officers arriving in Taiwan after fleeing China to take whatever properties they wanted as their own, Tsai said, adding that owners of property that officers wanted would be then arrested on fabricated charges.
Several examples of such cases remain to be further investigated, he said.
A series of discussions on the legacy of martial law and authoritarianism are to be held at the Taipei International Book Exhibition this month, featuring findings and analysis by the Transitional Justice Commission. The commission and publisher Book Republic organized the series, entitled “Escaping the Nation’s Labyrinth of Memory: What Authoritarian Symbols and Records Can Tell Us,” to help people navigate narratives through textual analysis and comparisons with other nations. The four-day series is to begin on Thursday next week with a discussion between commission Chairwoman Yang Tsui (楊翠), Polish-language translator Lin Wei-yun (林蔚昀), and Polish author and artist Pawel Gorecki comparing
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