CKS Memorial hall should not be demolished: Premier

Mainland Chinese tourists visit the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. Taiwan will hold its presidential election on Saturday, Jan. 16. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said on Feb. 26 he does not believe National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall should be demolished, despite being considered by many a symbol of authoritarianism.

When asked about the future of the Hall and progress on Transitional justice, Su said the complex was built with the blood and sweat of the people and national resources. As such, any change in its designation or use must be carefully considered, he said.

Transitional justice is not about revenge or tearing down buildings, Su said. In this instance, it is about how to appropriately use a public building built with people’s hard-earned money, the Premier added.

Speaking about the 228 Incident, the brutal crackdown of an anti-government uprising in 1947, Su said regardless of the designations of perpetrators and victims, “we all call the same country and land home.”

However, the injustice suffered by victims must be addressed and where necessary compensation paid, with responsibility made clear, said the veteran politician.

The memorial hall, a 250,000-square-meter complex in Taipei’s affluent Zhongzheng District, was opened to the public in 1980.

Every year, as Feb. 28 approaches, there are reports of Chiang statues at the complex being vandalized and the debate about the future of CKS Memorial hall is ongoing.

The Hall must be transformed on the basis of “facing history, recognizing agony, and respecting human rights, ”the Ministry of Culture’s website states.

According to Minister without Portfolio Lin Wan-I (林萬億), there is a proposal that CKS Memorial hall should be turned into new offices for the Legislative Yuan, while others suggest using it to house an NGO.

Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), said the Hall should be transformed into a space dedicated to previous presidents.

In contrast, urban planning researcher Chang Wei-hsui (張維修), suggests the site could be converted into a human rights museum.

The 228 Incident refers to a brutal crackdown by the then-Kuomintang government headed by Chiang Kai-shek after an anti-government uprising in 1947.

The crackdown, which continued into May that year, left an estimated 18,000-28,000 people dead, many of them members of the intellectual elite, according to government figures.

By Chen Chun-hua and Chung Yu-chen