Chen's removal of plaque to Chiang Kai-shek a gimmick: KMT

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 March, 2006, 12:00am

Taiwan's president has removed a plaque above his office's entrance bearing the name of one of the political figures he most hates.

The marble plaque bearing the Chinese characters for 'Chieh Shou Hall' or 'The Hall of the Eternally Longliving Chiang Kai-shek' was taken down on Saturday as part of Chen Shui-bian's government's efforts to sever the island's historical links with the mainland and end what remains of Chiang's influence.

The plaque was replaced by a marble sign reading Presidential Office, prompting an outcry from opposition lawmakers, especially those from the Kuomintang, which was led by Chiang.

'It is just another political gimmick of the Chen Shui-bian government to woo pro-independence activists and boost its programme to cut Taiwan's links with the mainland,' said KMT legislative caucus whip Pan Wei-kang.

She said this and other incidents, such as the removal of Chiang statues from all military barracks, showed Mr Chen cared only about politics, not public welfare.

But the Presidential Office said the move was justifiable because the presidential building should never be a personal memorial, and that the name change carried 'constitutional meaning', showing Taiwan had moved on from authoritarianism to democracy.

Chiang is viewed by the Chen government as a symbol of authoritarianism, even dictatorship. The KMT, one of whose goals is to reunify with the mainland, is seen by the group as an 'alien' party.

The KMT was defeated by the communists at the end of the civil war in 1949 and fled to the island, where it set up an interim government with the hope of one day recovering the mainland.

The plaque's removal comes a month after Mr Chen closed the National Unification Council, which the KMT set up in 1990 to vouch for their goal to reunify.