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Transitional justice not aimed at spurring animosity: culture minister

2019/01/31 19:01:49

Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君)

Taipei, Jan. 31 (CNA) Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said that transitional justice is not just about removing symbols of Taiwan's authoritarian past or wiping out the legacy of former repressive political leaders and should not be seen as fanning antagonism in the society.

Rather, the goal is to rectify the wrongs of the past, she said in a recent interview with CNA.

Against that backdrop, Cheng said, the government's plans to revamp National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall are not only part of its transitional justice efforts but are also aimed at reshaping the capital city.

She said that while CKS Memorial Hall has been used in recent times as venue for culture, art and other civilian activities, it was actually an area allocated by Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) for an urban renewal project.

During the period Japanese colonialism and the Qing Dynasty, it was a military base, Cheng said.

"Taiwanese never had an opportunity to decide what the area should be used for," she said.

The Ministry of Culture last year submitted two proposals to the Cabinet for re-designation of the memorial hall and will hold public forums and hearings on the issue, Cheng said.

In the proposals, the ministry put forth plans and draft law amendments to change the organization and structure of CKS Memorial Hall, she said.

One of the proposals is for an amendment to the "Organization Act of the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Management Office" to implement the transformation work, Cheng said.

Despite the slow progress of transitional justice, Cheng said, her stance on the matter has never wavered.

She said it is regrettable that when the issues of human rights and justice are raised, some people view that as fanning antagonism in the society.

Such reactions usually cause distress among victims of human rights abuses, she said.

"We hope people can set aside their fears and partisan biases" and stop thinking that learning from the mistakes of the past means causing animosity, Cheng said.

Social justice can only be reinstated by seeking to understand past wrongs, said the minister, who was slapped in the face recently by a former entertainer that took issue with her policies regarding CKS Memorial Hall.

The Transitional Justice Commission, tasked with uncovering Taiwan's history of political repression during its martial law period, was formally launched in May 2018.

The commission introduced proposals late last year to remove symbols of the country's authoritarian past, including the image of Chiang on banknotes and coins.

It also suggested that the military honor guard at the CKS Memorial Hall be discontinued and that statues of Chiang be removed from military bases.

(By Wang Yi-ju and Evelyn Kao)
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