Protests against Chiang family legacy halt Taipei mayor's 228 speech
Taipei, Feb. 28 (CNA) Protesters rushed Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an's (蔣萬安) speech at a 228 Incident memorial Tuesday, with demonstrators calling on Chiang to apologize for the deadly 1947 government crackdown overseen by his purported great-grandfather former President Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).
Despite a heavy police presence, a number of people managed to break the cordon at the 228 Peace Memorial Park to protest against Chiang, about three meters away from the podium where the mayor had just begun delivering his remarks.
The event was temporarily halted, and Chiang, who had remained on the podium, eventually finished his remarks after the protesters were removed by the police to outside the security cordon.
The protest group, which later identified itself as Bo Lat Chia (無力者), said Chiang Wan-an, a member of the Kuomintang (KMT), won Taipei's mayoral election last November campaigning as a direct descendant of Chiang Kai-shek.
The group went on to say that since the mayor had taken the advantage of the family name, he then had the responsibility to review and redress the damage caused by Chiang Kai-shek's authoritarian government.
The 44-year-old mayor is the purported great-grandson of Chiang Kai-shek, who is widely seen as responsible for the government's brutal response during the 228 Incident, which began with anti-government protests in Taipei on Feb. 27, 1947.
Born as Chang Wan-an (章萬安), Chiang Wan-an followed the steps of his father John Chiang (蔣孝嚴), former secretary-general to the president, to change his surname into Chiang in 2005.
While Chiang Wan-an has never openly addressed his lineage, the Taipei mayor's failure to categorically deny being a direct descendant of Chiang Kai-shek has seen him accused of seeking to leverage ties with the former president's family for political gain.
During his remarks, Chiang Wan-an apologized, in his capacity as Taipei mayor, for the police's confiscation of contraband cigarettes from a woman in Taipei on Feb. 27, 1947, which was the flashpoint of the anti-government protests in the area.
According to the Memorial Foundation of 228, the woman who sold the illegal cigarettes was badly wounded by the police, thus igniting public outcry that had been in place for some time against the KMT's oppressive and corrupt rule in Taiwan.
Chiang Wan-an later told reporters that his apology followed that of late President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), both of whom had offered their regret over the government's crackdown when serving as the country's top leader.
Speaking on the earlier commotion, Chiang said he "respects every kind of opinion" as "Taiwan is a democratic and diverse society."
He added that the Taipei city government would continue its efforts to "confront the history and restore the truth."
During the memorial, three Taipei City councilors in attendance -- Miao Po-ya (苗博雅) from the Social Democratic Party, Wu Pei-yi (吳沛憶) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, and independent Sabrina Lim (林亮君) -- held a silent protest by holding up signs denouncing authoritarianism.
Miao told reporters that they were calling for the Taipei city government led by Chiang to remove "symbols of authoritarianism" and stop any acts of worshiping "dictators."
Commenting on Tuesday's protests against the mayor, Miao said they were what Chiang had to deal with since he is now a public servant.
She added that no family members of the victims of the Feb. 28 Incident had ever "bothered" people who are "officially recognized as the descendants of the Chiang family," because none of them had run for office.
Tuesday's memorial, organized by the city government's Department of Cultural Affairs and the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum, has already caused some controversy after the Taiwan Nation Alliance withdrew from the event earlier this month.
The alliance, which held a separate memorial at Liberty Square on Tuesday, has said many descendants of the victims of the Feb. 28 Incident would "not tolerate attending a memorial with the descendant of the [incident's] perpetrator."
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Feb. 28: Late democracy advocate's daughter to Taipei mayor: Face 228 history
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Feb. 28: Gov't must not make same mistake again, Tsai says at 228 memorial
Feb. 27: Descendants of 228 Incident victims take aim at Chiang symbols
Feb. 25: Academia Historica publishes archives for 228 Incident anniversary
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