A Star Blogger Is Born

(Taipei Times)  KMT, DPP using CKS to instill fear: Demos Chiang.  December 26, 2007.

The great-grandson of dictator Chiang Kai-shek ( 蔣介石 ) yesterday said he agreed to a certain degree with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government's recent moves to purge the remnants of his great-grandfather's rule as it would prevent the DPP from using his family's name as a tool to "control fear" in the public in the future.

Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, Demos Chiang (蔣友柏) made the comments at a press conference to announce the launch of his blog, baimu yiyan (白木怡言), a play on one of the characters in his Chinese name.  The young Chiang said that when he first heard of the "de-Chiang" movement, he felt a tinge of sadness, but the feeling quickly subsided once he was able to see the bigger picture.  "I discovered that no one from the pan-green camp was talking about getting rid of Chiang, but the terms were both tossed around by the pan-blues. Both the DPP and the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] are not used to employing positive tactics to win elections," he was quoted as saying in a Central News Agency report yesterday.  In his view, neither party is equipped to bring hope to the public. Instead, politicians from both sides are skilled in manipulating the "fear" factor to drum up support by "scaring" voters.

The product designer also threw his weight behind the government's decision to replace the inscription on the former Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, saying getting rid of the inscription and that changing the name to National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall would leave the DPP "one less target" to attack his family.  "The DPP obviously used the hall controversy as one its major election strategies, but somehow the KMT linked the issue with fear," the CNA report quoted him as saying. "In this whole mess, the posterity of Chiang Kai-shek became the biggest casualty."

He did not spare the pan-blue or some of his family members in his criticism.  "The KMT has lost its ability to self-regulate," he said. "It feels the need to be immersed in self-approval and has a difficult time pulling itself out of it. It doesn't dare and isn't willing to let go of the concepts that were deeply ingrained in it."  "The KMT wants to preserve the hall in order to keep the past glory alive. It could also use the issue to mobilize the pan-blue voters by making them think their spiritual leader is being sabotaged. This is an effective and economic efficient way to boost its popularity," he said.

Chiang said it would be in the DPP's interest to leave the hall and his great-grandfather's statue alone so "it could use it to solidify the pan-green voters" in every election.  He said he had advised his mother to remain neutral on the issue. Without naming any names, he said those members of the Chiang family who chose to sit on one side of the fence did so out of "self-serving political interests."

Commenting the recent debate on the relocation of his great-grandfather and grandfather's mausoleums, he said whether the two men were recognized as the ex-presidents of the Republic of China or Taiwan, it was an undeniable fact that they are an integral part of the nation's history.  "In that case, we should follow the precedent set by the late president Yen Chia-kan [ 嚴家淦 ] by relocating their tombs to Wuchihshan," he said. "But if the government is unwilling to do it, then the entire matter becomes a family affair and should be dealt solely by the family."  He said he never wanted and would never join the KMT, but he was obligated to comment on the party's conduct because it "has done many things that affect my family and the generations that follow."  From now on, he said, his blog would be his only conduit to express his political views and he would decline all interviews related to politics.

Here is the translation of Demos Chiang's blog post dated December 27, 2007.

As a member of the Chiang family, I never had the sense of undergoing the 'anti-Chiang' process.  This could be because the "anti-Chiang" process occurred only when the two President Chiangs were still holding their posts.  During those periods, a group of idealistic and brave people challenged the system in order to bring democracy to Taiwan while being oppressed by the totalitarian dictatorship.  They opposed the government and they even spoke unfavorably and negative about "President Chiang."  We understand and respect their actions.  I believe that "anti-Chiang" was a tactic during the era of struggle for a democratic system.  But today Taiwan has implemented a democratic system and we are now in an era of democracy.  Once the goal has been attained, the "anti-Chiang" tactic should have been put away in history.  In any case, I was probably not yet born or else I was too young at the time.  Therefore, the term "anti-Chiang" mean nothing in my memory.

My personal view is that the term "anti-Chiang" contributes nothing positive in the next phase of the development of democracy in Taiwan.  No matter which angle you want to look at this, "Chiang" has become a part of the history of Taiwan, whether you like or dislike that name.  That era is now history.  And history can neither be erased nor severed.  Therefore, the subject for discussion in the post-Chiang era is about how turn the "positive" and "negative" memories into effective assets to lead Taiwan down the path of "democracy."  We can approach transitional justice, truth discovery and historical definition and interpretation with a positive attitude in order to "build a permanent democratic system in Taiwan" when we look back to the historical path taken.

Concerning the issue of re-interment, my personal question is why it was a "temporary stay" at the time as opposed to a "permanent rest" at the time.  By what logic and by whom was that decision made?  Suppose that the President's tomb was supposed to be returned to the capital city of Nanking after the recovery of mainland China, then how come former president Yen Chia-kan was buried in Wuchihshan?  This event occurred too far away for me.  I don't know, and I don't want to pursue the issue.  But this event occurred as a result of historical circumstances that I cannot determine.  The fact is that the case is hanging out there and being manipulated by the "blues" and "greens" for election purposes.  I think that this is annoying to the two Chiangs, the Chiang family and the entire population here in Taiwan.  The permanent solution requires us to deal with this in a serious manner.

Concerning the handling of this matter, I have to ask first whether this is a state affair or a family affair?  As a family member, I would ask the relevant government department to define this matter -- Should the re-internment be treated as a state affair or should it be left purely as a family affair for the Chiangs?

If the government takes the viewpoint that this is a state affair, then they must acknowledge that the Chiangs were heads of states.  It does not matter whether this is the nation of Taiwan or the Republic of China, for it must then be treated as a state affair.  The associated expenses will be covered by the state.  My personal opinion is that if this is a state affair, then I will respect the decision of the government with respect to the use of resources or the arrangement for the places of burial.

But if the government is unwilling or believes that it is inappropriate to treat this affair as a state matter, then it should define this as a family affair for the Chiang family.  I can accept that too.  If the remnants of the Chiangs must be handled by the Chiang family, then the decision by the family elders should be respected.  I cannot speak for the entire Chiang family.  But I can state that I personally would like to respect the final wills of my great-grandfather and grandfather to move their remnants back to their hometown in Zhejiang.  The government will obviously not be required to bear the expenses.  As for the how the ashes will be sent back and how to negotiate with the government on the other side of the Taiwan straits, it will be up to the Chiang family to deal with.

Actually, this whole affair is very simple.  After all, there are more past presidents of Taiwan than my great-grandfather and grandfather.  Perhaps everybody has forgotten about the late president Yen.  The simplest way is to follow how the former president Yen was buried and do the same for the two Chiangs.

Since the beginning of this year, the "demolition of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall" incident has been hyped red-hot.  From the very beginning, I believe that this was a Democratic Progressive Party tactic to heat up the election.  Meanwhile, the KMT also associated this affair with 'fear'.  The victims in this affair are the descendants of the two Chiangs.  We had to maintain our silence because we must trust the government chosen by the people and we have no political interests.  Unfortunately, we were swept into this affair because of the political interests of a small number of people.

This affair about "the de-Chiang process", "the demolition of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall" and "the removal of the bronze statue" is like the re-internment.  I must explain my views from the points of the state affairs, the political party affairs and the family affairs.

The KMT has lost the ability to reform itself.  They are cannot pull themselves out of their self-affirmations.  They cannot contemplate or doubt their deeply implanted views and they want to retain the past glorious and symbolic spirit of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.  This Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall serves not only as the spiritual symbol of the 'blue' camp, but it can also hint at the possibility that the DPP can demolish this spiritual lighthouse at any time.  This is a way to mobilize the pan-blue voters, and it is a cheap and efficient method.

For the DPP, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is better off being there than not.  Without it, there would be one less target to attack.  By leaving the bronze statue alone at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, it is possible to use it to lift the spirits of the voters;  for the DPP, this is a cheap and efficient method.  Therefore, when they talked about demolishing the walls around the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, I asked my mother to maintain neutrality.  But some people in the pan-blue camp actually danced to that tune and defined that site temporarily as a historical site.  I began to worry that the KMT would create an issue from this in order to consolidate their votes.  After that, the DPP would naturally defined the site as a "official historical site" and guarantee that they can use the site to mobilize voters for the next twenty years.  As expected, the DPP declared the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall as a national historical site, and that was a smart move.  By demolishing neither the building nor the bronze statue, they only needed to alter certain decorations or descriptive texts in order to remind people about the history of totalitarianism in Taiwan.  Although the Taipei city government has listed the site as a temporary historical site, it has ceded the right to make the "historical interpretation" because the existence of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is controlled by the DPP government.

I am a descendant of the Chiang family.  I choose to live in Taiwan, I set my roots in Taiwan and I let my children be educated in Taiwan.  I obviously don't want my children to be affected by these bad influences.  I want these rights/wrongs to become part of history, instead of being issues to be argued over each and every day.

I have never thought about joining the KMT.  My parents have never persuaded me to join the KMT.  Therefore, I did not join the KMT and I will not join the KMT in the future.  Although I am not a KMT member, the fact is that the KMT has done many things that affect my family and my descendants.  Therefore, I am forced to say something here.

I don't know how my descendants will regard that bronze statue and the Memorial Hall that occupies thousands of square meters of land in the heart of Taipei.  But I know that it was a mistake to erect that statue.  Before erecting the bronze statue and building that Memorial Hall for Chiang Kai-shek, there should have been a waiting period of 100 years (or 50 years).  If after 100 (or 50) years, the people still want to erect a bronze statue or memorial hall, then it means that he was truly great.  So the issue right now is whether our government can use the words "humanity, braveness and justice" to examine the past, present and future of the existence of Taiwan?

Personally, I can understand and agree (to a certain extent) with the "de-Chiang" movement.  But I personally hope that the purpose of the "de-Chiang" movement could be more than just a means of manipulating voters during election time.  The "evaluation of the positive and negative contributions of the two Chiangs" should be left to be determined by a fair and just academic attitude towards history.  I earnestly hope that this series of "de-Chiang" movements will give a space of thinking for Taiwan, so that we can rationally realize that the "de-Chiang" process was intended to end a certain era and move us into a "post-Chiang" era more suitable for the existence of a democratic civilization for people.