Taiwan's president-elect pays tribute to late dictator


Taiwan's president-elect bowed in front of Chiang Kai-shek's mausoleum Saturday to commemorate the anniversary of the dictator's death, a departure from the outgoing government's efforts to distance itself from the late leader.
Ma Ying-jeou said Chiang's faults and achievements should be decided by historians _ but that there was no denying he was part of the island's rich past.
Chiang fled to Taiwan in 1949 after his Nationalist Party was defeated by Mao Zedong's communists on mainland China. He ruled the island with an iron fist until his death in 1975.
His burial in the mausoleum was meant to be temporary _ until the Nationalists could one day return to rule the mainland.
Ma, who will be sworn in as president on May 20, told a small group of visitors to the tomb Saturday that the late leader's legacy was an "important historical and tourism resource for Taiwan."
The mausoleum was shut in December when the ruling Democratic Progressive Party said the island should stop honoring a dictator. It also ordered Chiang's name removed from the main international airport and tore down statues of him on military bases.
But after Ma, a member of the Nationalist Party, won the presidential poll last month, the government decided to reopen the mausoleum every year on the anniversary of Chiang's death so the public could pay tribute.
Ma told Taiwan's state-owned Central News Agency he would visit the tomb annually.