TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said on Tuesday that Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂) should be converted into a space for different public use—rather than torn down—as a step towards achieving transitional justice.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall has stirred controversy over recent years. The monument was built during the country's authoritarian era to commemorate the late dictator, but families of White Terror victims and civic groups have been urging the government to remove the large statue of the dictator that lies inside.
Some believe it is misleading international tourists to favor Chiang's contributions to the development of Taiwan's democracy.
Su's comment was made during a legislative interpellation session on Tuesday, just days before the 72nd anniversary of the 228 Incident (Feb. 28 Massacre).
Su was asked by legislators about the government's progress in fulfilling transitional justice commitments, and the fate of the memorial hall—where symbols honoring the KMT dictator are still on display. The Premier said he disagreed with proposals to demolish the site, as it was built with taxpayers' money during authoritarian rule, and the Democratic Progressive Party government is seeking to repurpose the place for better use.
The Premier also quoted the late South Africa president Nelson Mandela, calling for a more open-minded and forgiving attitude towards past oppressors, which he believes will unite the people of the island in moving forward.
Su agreed that the national party leader should make an official apology to victims of the military dictatorship, exonerate tens of thousands of victims of political persecution, and expunge their criminal records.
"I honor political pragmatism. Taiwan is an independent sovereign nation, and what I am doing is to safeguard our sovereignty, democracy, quality of life, and to boost economic growth—which our people undeniably appreciate," said Su.