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No plan to remove Chiang Kai-shek statues or change names: officials

2017/12/06 21:23:22

Taipei, Dec. 6 (CNA) Taiwan government officials on Wednesday dismissed rumors that roads and schools named after Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣中正) will be renamed following the passage of the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice the previous day.

"Whoever is spreading those rumors is trying to create divisions in the society," Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said.

The new law is aimed at bringing about reconciliation, not creating divisions among people, he said.

Hsu said the act will allow the government to restore historical truth and maintain the rights of the victims of the "White Terror" period in Taiwan's history.

"The issue of whether to change the names of schools and roads should not be handled the Cabinet," Hsu told CNA.

Meanwhile, Veterans Affairs Council (VAC) Minister Lee Hsiang-jow (李翔宙) said that statues and photos of former President Chiang Kai-shek at Veterans Homes in Taiwan will not be dismantled under the newly enacted law.

Lee told the media Wednesday that the VAC was established in 1954, under a directive from Chiang, to take care of veterans and provide assistance to them in areas such as education, employment, medical care, home care and general services.

At the time, Chiang said it was his responsibility to take care of veterans, Lee said.

Against that background, commemorative symbols associated with Chiang, such as his statues and photos, should be retained at Veterans Homes in memory of his service to veterans, Lee said.

The Act on Promoting Transitional Justice is aimed at removing authoritarian-era symbols and addressing the legacy of injustices left by former Kuomintang (KMT) administrations.

An ad hoc committee will be created under the Executive Yuan to implement transitional justice measures set forth in the law, including the retrieval of political archives held by the KMT which could help improve people's understanding of that era, removal of authoritarian-era symbols, and retrials of cases of injustice related to the decades of KMT single party rule.

The ad hoc committee will be required to produce a report on the history of the period, which is expected to take two years, after which the committee will be disbanded.

However, as the law has just been passed by the Legislature and has not yet been promulgated by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), there is no timetable yet for setting up the ad hoc committee, according to Hsu.

The focus of the new law is transitional justice relating to the period from Aug. 15, 1945, when Japanese colonial rule in Taiwan ended, to Nov. 6, 1992, when martial law on the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu ended after the lifting of martial law on Taiwan proper in July 1987.

The law states that commemorative symbols of authoritarian rule that are displayed in public buildings and other public places should be removed, renamed or otherwise disposed of.

With the passage of the law, public attention is now focused on whether the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and the VAC will dismantle all commemorative symbols associated with Chiang.

MND spokesman Chen Chung-ji (陳中吉) said Wednesday that the ministry was still considering the matter of Chiang Kai-shek statues.

(By Lu Hsin-hui, Evelyn Kao, S.C. Chang)