A ‘Remember March’ in March

By Joe hung

Unlike an election year, this year saw no large-scale noisy demonstrations to mark Peace Memorial Day, the day to remember the Feb. 28 Incident of 1947. President Ma Ying-jeou went to Yilan to attend a meeting to mark the 66th anniversary of the 228 Incident, where he asked Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ning to increase the proportion of the teaching about the bloody suppression of rioters in school history textbooks.

In Taipei, there was a much smaller “Remember March” demonstration, in which Democratic Progress Party leaders from its chairman, Su Tseng-chang, on down took part to call for the payment of compensations by the Kuomintang to the families of the 228 victims, the teaching of the incident in school lest the ruling party should be accepted as a democratic political party, and self-awakening, self-reliance and self-strengthening of the people of Taiwan to resist persecution. The protest march was organized by the Taiwan Nation Alliance, a successor to the Grand Alliance for the One Hundred Million People Hand-in-Hand to Protect Taiwan, which organized a successful island-wide rally on Peace Memorial Day in 2004 to help President Chen Shui-bian get re-elected. Of course, the people of Taiwan have to remember the massacre’s untold thousands of victims who died in the name of suppressing the spontaneous riots after Taiwan Provincial Administrator-General Chen Yi’s guards strafed with heavy machine guns a crowd protesting the accidental killing of an onlooker by an armed agent of the Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau. The onlooker, Chen Wen-xi, was killed by a stray bullet on a Taipei street while the agent hit a cigarette-selling widow. The machine gun strafing killed four men in the protesting crowd and it was a signal for the spontaneous riots in Taipei and riots also occurred in other cities of the island. Nonetheless, there is no need to add a page or two to history textbooks for the incident that changed irrevocably the precarious honeymoon between the islanders and the Chinese mainlanders following Taiwan’s retrocession to the Republic of China into a bitter feud that in time spawned a movement for Taiwan independence.

The reason is simple.