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Tainan mayor blasted for 'sneaky' removal of Chiang statues

2015/03/23 22:15:47

Mayor Lai Ching-te (賴清德).

Taipei, March 23 (CNA) Several Kuomintang (KMT) Tainan councilors lashed out at Mayor Lai Ching-te (賴清德) on Monday for what they said was the "sneaky" way he removed statues of late President Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正) from schools over the weekend, calling him a "terrorist."

KMT councilors Lu Kun-fu (盧崑福), Wang Chia-chen (王家貞) and Tsai Shu-hui (蔡淑惠) criticized the mayor for doing as he liked and creating confrontation between the blue and green camps in disregard for the schools' autonomy and the historical value of Chiang's statues.

Tsai accused Lai of having the statues of Chiang removed from 14 elementary and junior high schools on Saturday on short notice and without informing the schools in advance.

Wang argued that Lai was engaging in negative manipulation, while Lu contended that Lai only understood grandstanding and was good at destroying things.

KMT Legislator Chen Shu-hui (陳淑慧) issued a statement saying that Lai removed the statues to suit his political purpose, a move she described as driving a wedge between different ethnic groups and creating conflict.

She also said that with Taiwan facing its worst drought in a decade, Lai should "dedicate himself to issues related to the public, instead of engaging in purging historical figures."

The mayor on Sunday denied his action was "sneaky," saying he announced it on Feb. 28 at an event to mark the 228 Incident.

"I'm opposed to political statues on campuses. If they are statues of such figures as educator Helen Keller, I will welcome them," Lai said.

The statues will be sent to the Chiang Kai-shek Statue Memorial Park in Cihu, Taoyuan.

Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中), deputy director of the KMT's Culture and Communications Committee, said Lai's action to remove the statues on short notice was "inappropriate."

He said schools should decide on their own through discussions whether to keep the statues.

Yang said people in Taiwan indeed have differences over Chiang's merits and failings in history, and whether the statues of political leaders are fit for schools could also be debated.

But the issue, which involves historical memories and ideological differences, should be dealt with in a more sensitive way, he said, instead of being decided by the mayor's ideology and the use of administrative power to remove them forcibly.

Culture Minister Huang Meng-chi (洪孟啟) said earlier Monday that he respected the rights of local governments but suggested that they consider the historical context of the statues rather than giving everything a political orientation.

Chiang served as the ROC president briefly in China, and in Taiwan from 1950 after Nationalist forces retreated to Taiwan until his death in 1975.

(By Claudia Liu, Chang Jung-hsiang and Lilian Wu)