Nothing in Taiwan brings into focus the fact that the island is under the control of an exiled Chinese regime more than the many statues of dictator Chiang Kai-shek which litter the landscape. Hundreds of statues of Chiang still disgrace public spaces throughout Taiwan. Officials of the Republic of China in-exile from President Tsai Ing-wen on down have been slow to remove the Chinese hero worship statues despite the atrocities Chiang ordered against innocent Formosans after his installation by the United States after World War II.
One patriotic Taiwanese activist, Chen Jun-han, better known as Chilly Chen, has made it a personal crusade to correct the Chinese propaganda icons with non-violent actions. Chilly’s most recent effort was to spray paint a Chiang statue in Taipei with the words “slayer of the century” and “devil murderer.” Chilly was quickly hauled off to a police station but not before he made a public statement explaining covering up authoritarian propaganda messages with black plastic while leaving the statue of Chiang in place was wrong.
Chilly was taken into police custody for “mutilation” of the statue and then transferred to a ROC prosecutor’s office for interrogation where he continued to give them an earful. Chilly was finally released after ten hours in custody after police were able to clean the red paint off the statue base.
The veteran activist is Taipei director of Taiwan National Volunteer Team and has participated or led six non-violent paint balloon assaults and protests at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall where a giant statue of the dictator is protected by a ROC honor guard. Untold thousands of Formosans were murdered, tortured, and imprisoned under orders from Chiang beginning with the 228 Massacre in 1947 and continuing under the White Terror period during four decades of harsh martial law as Chiang, and later his son Chiang Ching-kuo, tightened their grip on the island following Chiang’s 1949 defeat in the Chinese civil war.
“There are still 94 bronze statues of Chiang Kai-shek in Taipei that Mayor Ko Wen-je refuses to remove. Covering up authoritarian words with an acrylic board does not cover up the fact Chiang was an incredible butcher known worldwide. Covering up words like “national Savior” and other sickening slogans cannot cover from the hearts of the Taiwanese people the evil Chiang has done.”
“Mayor Ko has sprinkled salt into the wounds of 228 victims and families by inviting Ma Ying-jeou to participate in 228 memorial activities. Ko should follow the example of Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang to dismantle Chiang statues.”
Chilly’s artistic statements over the years have resulted in multiple arrests and $12,000 NTD in fines which he has not paid. Chilly prefers to save his money for more paint.
Chilly Chen, though passionate in his patriotism, is modest and calls himself a nobody. However, Chilly’s modesty hides the fact that few dare to follow his example and that his determination to speak the truth about Chiang Kai-shek and his government makes Chilly a role model for truth, justice and courage.