President pays tribute to ROC founding father, amid protests

President pays tribute to ROC founding father, amid protests

Newly inaugurated President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) led senior officials Monday in paying tribute to Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China, as well as those who have died courageously for the country, at the Martyrs Shrine in Taipei.

Paying a "remote" tribute to Sun's mausoleum in Nanjing has been a tradition for an ROC president soon after being inaugurated.

But Tsai, who was sworn in Friday, changed the symbolic "remote" tribute and instead paid her respects to the founding father and others at the Martyrs Shrine in Yuanshan, Taipei.

The minor change was aimed at "defeudalizing" the significance of the ritual, according to the Presidential Office.

Tsai led Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), the heads of the five branches of Taiwan's government and other senior officials in Monday's ceremony, a six-minute process that included the playing of the national anthem, laying a wreath and bowing three times in front of the martyr's nameplates.

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said that although the procedure of the ceremony was simplified, the deep respect remained unchanged.

He said that in a democratic era, the new government is not following the past "remote" ritual, when asked about the new government's thoughts about the change and whether the truncation of the ritual means the severing of connections with the other side of the Taiwan Strait.

On protests by pro-Taiwan independence activists, Huang said that "the Presidential Office will respect the diverse views of society."

Peter Wang (王獻極), founder of the Taiwan Republic, a pro-independence organization, held a news conference outside the Martyrs Shrine that day to express opposition to "paying respects to the martyrs of past colonial rule."

The protesters held signs that read "oppose tribute to China's father," "refuse to be sinicized," and "oppose paying tribute to Chinese martyrs."

Chang Chao-lin (張兆林), head of the Department of Youth Affairs of the Taiwan Solidarity Union, shouted to Tsai: "Don't forget the expectations of the people. Past practices and poor regulations must be scrapped."

The shrine honors those who died in combat for the Republic of China in such engagements as the Xinhai Revolution, the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese Civil War and successive Taiwan Strait crises.

(By Sophia Yeh and Lilian Wu)

Updated : 2021-03-02 10:23 GMT+08:00