“The Whites of Their Eyes”

What Brought the Fear?

Chiang Kai-Shek (CKS) have been detested and adored by the many.  Some refer him as a brutal, psychopathic dictator who spent his 25 years at the helm engaged in a reign of terror.  For some others yet, they see him as a leader and a hero who have brought the Taiwan’s Chinese, democracy.

Sun Yat-Sen arrived over  hundred years ago, however when Chiang arrived, there reigned the unforgettable white terror.  Why…??

Despite differences from presidential candidates, however, favour leans towrds the building closer ties with China’s capital, Beijing.  A twist: to seize the inititiative and bring fury to the nationalists, the government has come tot he idea of writing-out Chiang from Taiwan’s history.

In the photo is Mao Ze-Dong and Chiang Kai-Shek, in toast to the defeat of the Japanese.  (Mao had originally imprisoned the Nationalist [Chiang], however, upond the invasion of the Japanese army, Mao offered a join of forces to defeat them, which at first, he [Chiang] declined.

In the photo is Mao Ze-Dong and Chiang Kai-Shek, in toast to the defeat of the Japanese. (Mao had originally imprisoned the Nationalist (Chiang), however, upon the invasion of the Japanese army, Mao offered a join of forces to defeat them, which at first, he (Chiang) declined.)

In June 2007, to visit the CKS Memorial Hall, one would see rooms filled with his memorbilia, such as his bullet-proof limousines and his duplicated office – which consists of a replica-mannequin, seated at his desk.  From the change to National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall, there instead displayed a rival exhibition in the main hallf, featuring films of old military parades, shcackles worn by various prisoners, array of propaganda leaflets and banned texts, all hilighted by the large banner that reads, “Bye-bye Chiang Kai-Shek!

“People should move forward and not drag this up,” a visitor,  Ting Le-Chin, comments.  “This is a tourist spot and we shouldn’t be showing people our bad history.” 

Her opponent leaned onto the counter in replying, “Emotional?  He killed so many innocent Taiwanese people.”  (Please refer to February 28, 1947, aka 228.)

Since the immigration of the ‘Nationalists,’ (thosse whom had lost the Chinese Civil War – hence having brought forth the massacre), Beijing has insisted that Taiwan is part of China, and has warned Taipei that any attempt to declare full independence will result in military action and grave consequences.  

China refuses diplomatic relations with any nation that recognizes Taiwan (as compared to: Chinese Taipei, China, PRC).  The UN refused membership following 1971 and Costa Rica had, as well, severed their ties with Taiwan.

It is against this background, that the battle over the right to preserve the memory of CKS, is being fought over.  Either parties equally would like to portray it as symbolic of the future direction of the country, however the people’s sentiments are otherwise, less convinced.

What was once THE hilight to the Memorial Hall (the routine in change of guards), however, has been taped-off from public entry.  Tourists visiting to pay dued respects to the former leader and dictator, had to make the inconvenient drive to the Chiang Kai-Shek Culture Park at Tashi (大溪), where the government has dumped dozens of statues of Chiang removed from public buildings.

Hundreds of unwanted CKS statues from all over Taiwan have found a home in Cihu, Taiwan.

Garden of the Generalissimos: Hundreds of unwanted CKS statues from all over Taiwan have found a home in Cihu, Taiwan.

Andrew Nien-Dzu Yang, member of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies think-tank, observed that the issue was holding less importance in people’s lives.  Students are taught that he was an authoritarian who brought harm to Taiwan, while the older generation, who remembered and lived through the history, are more fraught.

Nearly a third of a century has passed since his death; the memory of the old dictator is being effaced, from the removal of the generalissimo’s statues and to the renamed streets, and even the Taoyuan International Airport (a name which is currently used and accepted, internationally).  Such changes have provoked a political row, which has engulfed Taiwan’s national defense minister,  Lee Jye, whom since, was expelled from the KMT party (Chiang’s former ruling party) for allowing the old nationalist’s statues to have been removed from the military bases.

Casting the 228 Incident (video in Mandarin, but is a good one, nonetheless) as a clash between Taiwanese and KMT “outsiders”, the DPP has been much criticized for re-opening old wounds with the Taiwanese public, but created a sense of anxiety in Beijing.  The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may have been crossed with the generalissimo, they fear that Taiwan, by breaking the tradition of Chiang’s legacy, may further harm relations with the China.

two key pieces of evidence for this are how much CKS cursed (罵) people close to him, and how much private, even confessional, material is in the diaries. (CKS used to give himself demerits for looking lustily at women.) Prof. Yang argued that CKS would not have wanted this kind of material to be made public. (BTW, as Prof. Lu mentioned, the confessions and self-criticism in CKSs diaries didnt necessarily turn him into a saint...) One result of the private nature of Chiangs diaries, according to Prof. Yang, is that we can learn a lot more about what was really going on in CKSs head at certain important historical moments, such as the 1926 Zhongshan Warship Incident and the 1936 Xian Incident.

CKS' diary: two key pieces of evidence for this are how much CKS cursed (罵) people close to him, and how much private, even confessional, material is in the diaries. (CKS used to give himself demerits for looking lustily at women.) Prof. Yang argued that CKS would not have wanted this kind of material to be made public. (BTW, as Prof. Lu mentioned, the confessions and self-criticism in CKS's diaries didn't necessarily turn him into a saint...) One result of the private nature of Chiang's diaries, according to Prof. Yang, is that we can learn a lot more about what was really going on in CKS's head at certain important historical moments, such as the 1926 Zhongshan Warship Incident and the 1936 Xi'an Incident.

Why the Taiwanese reject reunification – has an answer…  The tragic events that have unfolded in the Beijing capital proves what the Taiwanese already knew: that Chinese leaders will revert as much as it takes, to oppress measures to hold their position of power.  This alone, is reason the Taiwanese have advocated a free and democratic Taiwan, separate from the Republic of China and People’s Republic of China – and have always rejected “reunification,” whether under the rule of KMT authorities in Taipei or the Communists in Beijing.

The Taiwanese never believed the capital’s [Beijing] promises in the freedom to maintain its own political and economic institutions under the “one country, two systems” policy, as exercised with Hong Kong.  The experience of the Tibetan people after 1949 further demonstrates the emptiness in their promises.  The events were clear that the Chinese rulers do not hesitate in the use of brutal force, even against their own.

Two Hours, in the Time of Two Years

The official change of title into the National Taiwan Democracy Hall Memorial (臺灣民族記念館) was was announced by former President Chen Shui-Bian (陳水扁) on May 19, 2007.

At a separate setting on Sunday, May 20, Chen announced that the military guards (who perform a change of guard every two hours for tourists), were to be removed.

“As for the disposal of the statue, we can think about that. I heard that the doors of the hall can be locked up,” Chen said.

Chen accuses CKS and the KMT regime of serious violations of human rights and of oppressing democracy advocates during their half century rule which came to an end with his inauguration in 2000.

(Photo, courtesy of TAIPEI TIMES, by Lo Per-Der)  A policeman holds up a coat to cover the private parts of an old man who dropped his pants and shouted Chen Shui-bian has no balls to protest the renaming of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall during a name change ceremony Saturday, May 19, 2007.

(Photo, courtesy of TAIPEI TIMES, by Lo Pei-Der) A policeman holds up a coat to cover the private parts of an old man who dropped his pants and shouted ''Chen Shui-Bian has no balls'' in protest on the renaming of CKS Memorial Hall to National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall during a name change ceremony Saturday, May 19, 2007.

>>> Interesting Poll: Approval ratings between CKS and Chen Shui-Bian<<<

According to the Cultural Heritage Protection LawCultural Heritage Protection Law: a temporary historical site cannot be altered or damaged in any way.  Any made attempts to remove the statue from the hall would hold legal consequences, the committee entrusted by the department to review the cultural value of the hall, considers the statue as of the building’s structure, department director Lee Yong-Ping (李永萍) explains.

A member of the 908 Taiwan Republic Campaign yesterday tries to pull the bars from a window in the wall surrounding the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall during an event the campaign called ``Tear down the feudal wall and open up a democratic space. The event coincided with the ceremony changing the halls name from Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

A member of the 908 Taiwan Republic Campaign Saturday, May 19, 2007 tries to pull the bars from a window in the wall surrounding the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall during an event the campaign called "Tear down the feudal wall and open up a democratic space.'' The event coincided with the ceremony changing the hall's name from CKS Memorial Hall.

At a news conference she called at the Legislative Yuan, the DPP Legislator, Lin Shu-Fen claims that the city government was using double standards to protect the outer wall of the CKS Memorial Hall, which is only 27 years old, while [they were] planning to tear down the wall around the Confucius Temple in Talungtung, which is nearly 200 years old; a plan which dates to when Ma Ying-Jeou was mayor.

Ma had agreed that the wall around the Confucius Temple should be torn down “to make it more approachable for the public,” Lin said.

Saturday, March 3, the (then) Taipei Mayor, Hau Lung-Bin reported to have planed the construction to tear the wall around CKS Memorial Hall, of which required the approval of the city government.

Lin Shu-Fen, Legislator to the DPP.

Lin Shu-Fen, Legislator to the DPP.

In a ceremony on Saturday, May 19, 2007, Lee protest that the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall did not exist because the legislation approved that the name-change was incomplete.

Placing banners to “publicize something that does not exist” may be illegal, she said, adding that the management office may be fined between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000 under the Cultural Heritage Protection Law.  The bannering she referred to was of the unveiling ceremony (held within the same day), of which two [huge] banners displayed wild lilies (as the symbol of the democracy hall) to cover either sides of the building.

Once the city government had caught up in the name change, their response since, had been consistent.

At a forum hosted by the Ketagalan Institute (website in traditional Chinese) in Taipei, DPP Secretary-General Lin Chia-Lung (林佳龍) debated that the name change was a simple matter of right or wrong, and a sign that the country had fully adopted democratization.

“If we want to walk down the road of democracy, we must face pain and accept the changes that come with it,” he said.

Blood, Sweat and Tears

It had taken two decades for Chiang Ching-Kuo (蔣經國) and Lee Teng-Hui (李登輝) in introducing a peaceful transition from martial law to pluralistic democracy of which protects human rights, and at last internationally celebrated upon the two-term rule of former President, Chen Shui-Bian (陳水扁).

(Photo, courtesy of Nationmaster)  Side view shortly after the renaming ceremony.

(Photo, courtesy of Nationmaster) Side view shortly after the renaming ceremony.

In 2006, 37 DPP legislators approved the proposal in the relocation of the CKS’ memorial to his tomb in Cihhu, and to have the current structure be renamed Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.  They added in mentioning that the law authorizing a memorial for Chiang does not specify the site; a change in locale could thus be enacted by a simple executive order.

The proposal attracted support as another step in the direction of rectifying names and symbols, associated with Taiwan’s authoritarian past to make inclusive of the unique Taiwanese culture.  (Interesting fact:  The island has had a few names. “Republic of China” was only titled after 1947 by the ROC government, whom had lost in the battle of the Chinese Civil War.  Prior to 1947, the island had been referred to as Taiwan, and Formosa (prior to the Dutch invasion, however, the name is still continued in reference to the island throughout some countries in West Europe to this date).

In 2007 the Ministry of Education of the Executive Yuan (part of the executive branch of government led by the DPP) agreed in renaming the hall.  Support and resistance followed, mainly along party lines, materialized immediately.

The Memorial had been listed as a “third tier” landmark on the government’s list of protected heritage sites, however  the Executive Yuan had demoted it to a “fourth tier” landmark.  The name change, therefore fit within the laws which states that fourth-tier landmarks may be modified (by the Executive Yuan directly through Organic Reguations, rather than via Organic Acts which require the approval of Legislature).

The official ceremony occurred on Mary 19, 2007: the [then] President Chen unveiled a plaque in front of the memorial bearing the title, National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (Traditional Chinese: 國立台灣民主紀念館).

Chen announced that the change reflects the citizens’ desire “to bid goodbye to the old age and to show that we Taiwanese are all standing firmly behind the universal values of freedom, democracy and human rights.”

He noted that May 19, the date of the ceremony, marked the 58th anniversary of the imposition of martial law on Taiwan; an even which birthed the military rule over the island for 38 years.

Ten Minutes, Today

The honour guards have returned to the CKS Memorial Hall in Taipei to the warm welcome from the citizens Saturday, January 24, 2008. At 9:00 a.m. sharp, the gates opened, and revealed a head armed forces honor guard officer leading two honour guards from the army, and another two from the navy, marching before the statue of CKS.

00 p.m. everyday. Officials expect the return of the changing of the guard performance to lure back more tourists.

(Photo, courtesy of the China Post) Huge crowds gather around the CKS Memorial Hall in Taipei to watch and take photos of honor guards changing shifts at an interval of one hour from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. everyday. Officials expect the return of the changing of the guard performance to lure back more tourists.

Sun Teh-Hsin, captain of the honor guard, proudly announced the routine of a 10-minute changing of the guard ceremony every hour between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. daily, which as well involves a flag-raising and flag-lowering ceremony at 6:30 a.m. and 5:10 p.m., respectively.

“Perhaps the honor guards were a bit nervous, so they quickened their pace a little and the ceremony was completed a few minutes earlier than usual,” Sun noted.

“But overall, the performance was good,” he went on, adding that it usually takes three months to train an honor guardsman.

Traditionally, all three branches of the armed forces served as honor guards for a mandatory four months.  A new arrangement has been compromised to three months, through the help of the Ministry of National Defense, witness the [three] forces take part in each performance.

The Ministry of Education, which oversees the facility, reports to have to spend NT$1 million to switch back the original plaque by the end of July, indirectly referring to Chiang’s name, located above the main gate, leading to the hall (was previously renamed to an epigraph that reads “Liberty Square“) on the main gateway will no longer be introduced.

A high-ranking military guard, performing during the ceremony at the CKS Memorial Hall.

A high-ranking military guard, performing during the ceremony at the CKS Memorial Hall.

Funny Fact: The area has once been a jail.

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~ by Lan on 2008 SunUTC2009-02-08T17:15:59+00:00. 15.

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