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Authorities on high alert after head of Yoichi Hatta statue reattached

2017/05/04 23:10:23

CNA file photo

Taipei, May 4 (CNA) Authorities are on high alert after repairing a statue of Japanese hydraulic engineer Yoichi Hatta following an act of vandalism.

The head of the bronze statue was removed by former Taipei City Councilman Lee Cheng-lung (李承龍) on April 15. Lee served on the council from 1994-1998 as a member of the New Party and had a reputation as an activist who pushed an agenda favoring unification with China.

Lee, now a member of the Chinese Unionist Party, told investigators he vandalized the statue because he did not agree with the historical status afforded Hatta in Taiwan.

The Chianan Irrigation Association hired divers to look for the severed head in the reservoir, but have failed to recover it despite numerous efforts.

An identical bronze statue at Chi Mei Museum was used to provide a new head for the statue.

Tainan City Government's Cultural Affairs Bureau confirmed that repair work is nearly complete and experts are putting the final touches to the project before unveiling the statue on May 7 in time for a commemorative ceremony the following day.

However, the city government has kept the statue covered and cordoned off the area to keep the public at a distance.

One city government official said they were keeping the repaired statue under wraps in case someone else attempted to vandalize it.

Hatta, born in Ishikawa Prefecture in 1886, designed the Chianan Canal and the Wushantou Reservoir when Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule (1895-1945). The two projects are widely recognized as facilitating irrigation in the vast Chianan Plain.

As pro-Taiwanese independence groups are scheduled to attend the ceremony at Wushantou Reservoir on May 8, the 75th anniversary of Hatta's death and there is a statue of late President Chiang Kai-shek at the reservoir complex, the authorities are planning to deploy additional security personnel.

Shortly after the "decapitation" of the Hatta statue, a statue of late President Chiang on Taipei's Yangmingshan was beheaded and the torso spray painted by a pro-Taiwanese independence group.

(By Chang Jung-hsiang and Lilian Wu)
Enditem/AW