Another salvo launched against Chiang's legacy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 February, 2007, 12:00am

Ruling party wants military guards removed from mausoleum

Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party has launched another campaign to diminish the legacy of late generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

In a new attempt to eradicate Chiang's remaining influence, DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun demanded yesterday that the cabinet remove the military police deployed by the defence ministry to guard the mausoleum of the late leader at Tzuhu, south of Taipei.

Mr Yu proposed at the pro-independence party's weekly meeting that the guards be removed on the grounds that the government should not waste money and resources on a 'dictator'.

'Chiang Kai-shek was not only a dictator, he was also the chief culprit of the 228 Incident,' Mr Yu said, referring to the massacre of tens of thousands of Taiwanese in 1947 that he said Chiang should be held accountable for.

The late Kuomintang leader, who still headed the government on the mainland at the time, reportedly sent troops from the mainland to suppress rioting in Taiwan in 1947. He fled to Taiwan after being defeated by the communists at the end of a civil war in 1949 and formed a government on the island.

Mr Yu said Chiang should be stripped of the privileges accorded to him in order to 'uphold historic justice', especially because of what he had done to victimise many Taiwanese.

'Cabinet should learn from advanced countries on how they remove the remnants of Nazi influence and uphold justice,' he said, adding that the government should change all names of roads and structures bearing Chiang's name. It should also remove his image from NT$1, NT$5 and NT$10 coins, he said.

Mr Yu said the defence ministry should leave it to Chiang's descendants to take care of his mausoleum rather than wasting NT$70 million (HK$16.5 million) on it each year. The DPP says the military deploys more than 130 guards and other staff to take care of the mausoleum.

Mr Yu's demand followed a DPP call for the authorities to remove all bronze statues of Chiang in public places and rename Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall 'Taiwan Democracy Hall'. The opposition said the move was aimed at wiping out Chiang's remaining influence in Taiwan and cutting the historic link he had with the mainland.

John Chiang Hsiao-yen, a Kuomintang legislator and grandson of the late leader, protested against Mr Yu's move yesterday, saying the DPP leader's proposal only showed he was a narrow-minded person who had no respect for history.

'It is also misleading for [Yu] to claim that the funds spent on the mausoleum's upkeep exceed NT$74 million when in fact it has been cut to NT$30 million for some time,' he said. Other opposition lawmakers said Mr Yu was trying to please pro-independence supporters to pave the way for his presidential bid next year.

'While the mainland is creating economic miracles every day, the DPP is copying the historic past of the Chinese communists in launching the Cultural Revolution and promoting its so-called name rectification campaign,' said People First Party legislator Lee Hung-chun.