CCA passes bill to replace memorial hall inscription

Controversy rages as central government set to gain jurisdiction over site

The dispute between the central government and the Taipei City government over renaming the front plaza of the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall continued yesterday as the Cabinet-level Council of Cultural Affairs passed a bill giving jurisdiction over the hall to the central government.
Once the bill is formally announced by the Cabinet, the Ministry of Education will be permitted to change the name of the plaza, and the inscription on the front gate of the hall, formerly known as Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to "Liberty Square." The renaming of the plaza and change of the inscription will reportedly be implemented no later than this Friday.
"The Cabinet has always lent its support to CCA decisions and will promptly announce the bill," Cabinet spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey said yesterday.
In reaction to the passing of the bill, Taipei City government officials said that they will continue to fight for jurisdiction over the hall.
"We will file for a constitutional interpretation by the Judicial Yuan's Council of Grand Justices regarding the issue," said Lee Yong-ping , commissioner of Taipei City's cultural affairs department.
Lee reiterated that her department has the right to exercise jurisdiction over the hall, which was deemed a temporary municipal historic site by the city government in March.
Lee added that the department would file a lawsuit against any individual or entity that damages the site, in accordance with the Cultural Heritage Preservation Law, which prohibits alterations of any anything related to the hall.
Yeh Chin-yuan, the city's Law and Regulation Committee commissioner, also urged the ministry to refrain from politically manipulating the issue and damaging the site. "The hall is undoubtedly the product of a former dictatorship, but it does not give the current administration the right to illegally change it," Yeh said. The move would cast the ruling Democratic Progressive Party government in the same light as the dictatorship it allegedly abhors, he added.
The MOE, however, said that the Taipei City Government should understand better than anyone that the bill passed by the CCA comes under the central administrative law, whose jurisdiction is above that of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Law.
"It is absolutely unnecessary for the city government to file for a constitutional interpretation," said MOE Chief Secretary Chuang Kuo-jung, adding that the city government's request would surely be turned down by the Judicial Yuan.
The Taipei High Administrative Court already rejected a previous request by the city government on Friday for a "provisional disposition" to prevent the MOE from changing the inscription on the front gate of the hall.
According to the current regulations, the bill must be made public for three days before it becomes effective, which means that the MOE may begin removing the current inscription as early as Thursday.
Chuang, however, did not give an exact date when his ministry would change the inscription.
The process of removing the original inscription will be conducted after the company in charge of the project has completed its preparations, Chuang said.
The inscription "dazhong zhizheng" on the front gateway of the hall literally means "impartial and just," and alludes to late President Chiang Kai-shek.
Meanwhile, a dozen veteran servicemen and pro-unification activists have been staging a protest in front of the hall since Monday, pledging that they would give their lives, if necessary, to fight for the plaza and to keep inscription on the gate.
The National Police Agency's First Corps of Special Police sent four large vehicles carrying more than 100 police officers to the hall yesterday afternoon, in case of any conflict between DPP and opposition Kuomintang supporters in the coming days.