Culture minister quizzed on rights museum issue
LEST WE FORGET: DPP lawmakers have demanded to know how much the atrocities of Chiang Kai-shek’s dictatorship would feature in a planned new museum
Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai said yesterday that decisionmakers should not impose their interpretations of history on a human rights museum, after opposition lawmakers accused her of lacking the courage to reveal her thoughts on historical events and dictator Chiang Kai-shek’s role in the 228 Massacre.
Lung stepped down from the platform at a session in the legislature after Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tuan Yi-kang called her “the most shameless government official,” despite her protest against his choice of words.
Tuan attacked Lung after several opposition lawmakers questioned her about Chiang’s responsibility for the 228 Massacre and whether she would allow a human rights museum to “truthfully” represent Chiang’s role in history.
The 228 Massacre refers to a brutal crackdown following an uprising in 1947 against Chiang’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which left tens of thousands dead and led to a nearly four-decade-long period of martial law.
Lung responded to the questions saying she respected different interpretations of history, but thought history “should not be simplified” and that a consensus should be reached through public discussion.
“What to include in a museum is a professional decision and it should not be decided by a minister,” she said.
Lung said during a break that she thought “it is a matter of principle.”
“If a writer becomes a decisionmaker and imposes her values on a human rights museum, I don’t think that is the right thing to do,” said Lung, a former essayist and cultural critic known for her poignant and critical essays.
She said she did not think she should express her personal views about Chiang, the 228 Massacre or the White Terror period, because her views were not important.
She said the human rights museum should be “an empty bottle,” which should not be filled by those who hold administrative powers.
Instead, she said, it should follow a professional procedure, with rigorous communication with victims, academics and people who “hold completely opposite views.”
The planned museum includes a 3.2 hectare cultural park in Taipei that once served as a center for detaining and trying political prisoners during the White Terror era, as well as a 32 hectare cultural park on the nation’s outlying Green Island that used to serve as a jail housing prisoners of conscience.
31 May 2012
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Cheng Li-chun holds up a document as she voices her concerns about whether Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai would accurately represent dictator Chiang Kai-shek’s role in the 228 Massacre at a proposed human rights museum during a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee in Taipei yesterday. Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times