President Ma Ying-jeou visited Cihu Mausoleum in Daxi, Taoyuan County in northern Taiwan Thursday to pay tribute to the late President Chiang Kai-shek on the 37th anniversary of his passing.
Ma, who doubles as chairman of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), was accompanied by Vice President-elect Wu Den-yih, KMT Vice Chairman John Chiang and other senior KMT officials.
When Chiang died in 1975, he was not buried in traditional Chinese fashion but was entombed in a black marble sarcophagus, as he had requested. He asked to be eventually buried in his hometown of Fenghua in Zhejiang Province in southeastern China.
The same was done when his son, President Chiang Ching-kuo, died in 1988. Chiang Ching-kuo's mausoleum is located in Touliao in the vicinity of Cihu Mausoleum.
The commemoration of the 37th anniversary of Chiang Kai-shek's death sparked discussion on whether the remains of the two late presidents should be moved to a military cemetery in Sijhih, New Taipei for permanent interment. Two tombs were built for them six years ago in a hillside cemetery.
The following are excerpts from a special report in the Thursday edition of the United Evening News on the Chiangs burial issue:
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsueh Ling said Wednesday that the KMT government should resolve the Chiangs interment issue as soon as possible since two tombs built for them have been left vacant for six years.
Responding to Hsueh's remarks, Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu said the issue should be decided through discussion between the Chiang family and the Ministry of the Interior.
"The Ministry of National Defense (MND) is only responsible for carrying out any decision reached in such discussion," Kao said.
KMT Vice Chairman John Chiang, the son of Chiang Ching-kuo born out of wedlock, said in a telephone interview with this paper that in addition to respecting the opinions of the Chiang family, local people's feelings should also be considered in deciding whether the bodies of the two late presidents should be moved to Sijhih for interment.
John Chiang refrained from commenting on the DPP lawmaker's remarks, but his response to this paper's inquiry seemed to imply that he prefers to see the Cihu and Touliao mausoleums kept intact.
On some people's suggestion that the bodies of the two Chiangs be sent to China for permanent interment in their hometown, he said that even though relations across the Taiwan Strait have improved in recent years, the conditions have not yet fully matured for implementing such a proposal.
KMT legislative whip Wu Yu-sheng said that if the Chiang family has no intention to relocate the two late presidents' embalmed bodies, the MND should consider refurbishing the two tombs in the Sijhih military cemetery to help ease the overcrowding issue.
He also suggested that the Cihu and Touliao mausoleums be rebuilt into a memorial park in honor of the two late national leaders. (April 5, 2012).
(By Sofia Wu)