Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has rejected criticism he is deliberately stirring up ethnic conflict by denigrating late nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek. Speaking to a group of victims' families yesterday on the eve of the 60th anniversary of a 1947 massacre, Mr Chen said that because historical reports showed Chiang was the prime culprit in the massacre, there was nothing wrong with the government considering adjusting the special treatment accorded to him. 'This is by no means a deliberate move to fan ethnic conflict,' he said during a reception at his office in Taipei. He said that unless the truth was revealed, there would be no reconciliation and there would be no end to the issue if the culprit responsible for the massacre was not held accountable. Mr Chen's comments came after the opposition and some local media said that he was trying to use the massacre as a political tool to drum up Taiwanese support for his independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party ahead of the legislative election in December and presidential poll in March next year. The massacre, known as the 228 Incident because it started on February 28, 1947, saw thousands of people killed by nationalist troops sent by Chiang from the mainland. Mr Chen said plans by the island's government to remove the special treatment accorded to Chiang, which includes the posting of guards at his mausoleum in the northern township of Tzuhu and the naming of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei in his honour, were just actions. Mr Chen did not respond to a request by the families to hold a public trial of the late leader. The families presented five demands to him during their meeting, including setting up a special 228 Incident court to investigate and hold public trials of Chiang, late Taiwanese governor Chen Yi and several officials involved in the incident. The opposition cried foul, saying it was obvious Mr Chen was trying to use the incident to destroy ethnic harmony. 'Various opinion polls have shown that ethnic confrontations have widened every day,' said opposition Kuomintang legislator Lin Teh-fu. 'The DPP and the president must take responsibility for using this historic wound for political gains.' Meanwhile, former KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou was snubbed twice by two relatives of the victims, who accused him of putting on a propaganda show by attending a memorial activity in Taipei. Elsewhere in Taiwan, most counties and cities held memorial events to commemorate the anniversary, with Mr Chen representing the government to apologise to victims' relatives in Chiayi, southern Taiwan.