Taiwan takes it out on former ruler's statues

Taiwan takes it out on former ruler's statues
MOCKED: Statues of Taiwan’s former ruler Chiang Kai-shek have been defaced as the island confronts its authoritarian past.
PHOTO: AFP

One has been beheaded, others defaced. Some are dressed in costumes by pranksters.

Statues of Taiwan’s former ruler Chiang Kai-shek have been increasingly targeted as the island confronts its authoritarian past.

Though still seen as a hero by some for waging war against communist China under the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT), Chiang has long been a divisive figure. His role in Taiwan’s “White Terror” — a purge of political opponents — and his imposition of martial law led many to brand him a dictator.

TERRITORY

Despite splitting after a civil war, China considers the island as a part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Fears over increased Chinese influence have grown since 2008 under President Ma Ying-jeou’s KMT government.

Chiang’s authoritarianism has outweighed his nationalist credentials and his image is wrapped up in that concern, with young people in particular feeling strongly that his memory should not be celebrated.

“Chiang was a dictator. For a long time, freedom of speech in Taiwan was suppressed,” said student Peter Chu, 23. “Why should his statues be allowed to remain on any campus?”

Student activist Chu Chen, 18, said the young people’s anti-Chiang sentiment stems from a desire to take control of their own destinies.

 


This article was first published on Aug 03, 2015.
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