I’m adding my voice to that of the families of 228 Massacre victims that have pleaded in vain for the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to be closed. Neither Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je nor Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen have agreed that it is wrong to have the man who ordered the Kuomintang crackdown on Formosans that led to the 228 Massacre of thousands in 1947 to be revered with a ROC color guard. Chiang Kai-shek’s soldiers and police inflicted murder, rape, torture, and harsh imprisonment on innocent island residents after a spontaneous revolt against the brutal KMT government imposed on the people followed by four long decades under White Terror martial law.
The Chinese hero worship of a brutal dictator who inflicted the White Terror crimes on the public is a gross insult to the memory of Chiang’s many victims. The building and statue inside is iconic for historical reasons to be sure. The hall no doubt cost a lot of tax dollars. However, each day that it is open, each changing of the guard, where respect is extended to the Chiang idol, is offensive to the memory of the many deaths caused by Chiang Kai-shek.
Mayor Ko showed up at the 228 Memorial Peace Park to listen to President Tsai’s remarks. One year Ko skipped attending Taiwan’s most somber holiday ceremonies to go jogging and received considerable criticism for the disrespect. Ko flagged criticism from some at this year’s event.
Hsu Shih-hsiung called Ko an “opportunist” and said that Ko has lost his sense of what Taiwanese values truly are. “This kind of person should never be the country’s leader; families of the White Terror victims and I will never support Ko.”
Tsai said, “We believe that by remembering history and reflecting on the past, we can make our society more united, make democracy more consolidated and move Taiwan forward,”
One simple way to “move Taiwan forward” would be to end the outrageous public worship of Chiang Kai-shek. I challenge you Mayor Ko, to host 228 ceremonies next year at the Memorial Hall. I challenge you President Tsai, to honor your words and move Taiwan forward, away from Chiang hero worship. The two of you should work together to clean house. While meeting to discuss building renovation, give some consideration to substituting Taiwanese history for Chinese history in the building museum.
Oh, more thing. Those other statues. Taiwan is littered with over a thousand Chiang statues in public places. There are many in Taipei. They need to go away too. The longstanding “strategic ambiguity” that has clouded Taiwan’s international status has left many people confused.
Memorial Hall was build by the dictator’s son, Chiang Ching-kuo, to honor his father in 1980, while Taiwan was still suffering under martial law and it was a crime to mention the 228 Massacre. A goose-stepping honor guard saluting the statue of a dead dictator has no place in modern Taiwan.