TAIWAN: Academics claim future 228 Incident is possible

Professor being sued for libel says that China's control over Taiwan could result in another deadly clash

Taipei Times
Friday, February 16, 2007

By Ko Shu-ling

Former president Chiang Kai-shek was the main culprit behind the notorious 228 Incident and a similar incident could happen again if China were to exert its rule over Taiwan, academics said yesterday.

The 228 Incident was an uprising sparked on Feb. 27, 1947, against the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.

Attributing the bloody aftermath to the differences between Chinese and Taiwanese societies, Lee Shiao-feng, a professor of history at Shih Hsin University, said a similar incident could occur if "an undemocratic country rules over a democratic one."

Lee made the remarks during a book launch yesterday morning. The Ketagalan Institute published a booklet, Responsibility for the 228 Incident, a shorter version of The 228 incident: A Report on Responsibility published by the 228 Incident Memorial Foundation last year.

Chiang's grandson, KMT Legislator John Chiang, has criticized the report as being politically motivated and sued Academia Historica President Chang Yen-hsien; Chen Chin-huang, the head of the 228 Incident Memorial Foundation; and Chen Yi-shen, the report's chief author, for libel. Chiang is appealing after a district court ruled against him.

Chang yesterday said the victims' families are owed a clear account of the tragedy and that it is important to find out the truth.

"If you don't know what the 228 Incident was, you don't know the modern history of Taiwan nor how the KMT governed the country," he said.

Chang said that four people should be held accountable for the incident, with Chiang Kai-shek being the main culprit; Taiwan governor Chen Yi, the commander of the Kaohsiung Fortress Peng Meng-chi and the head of the Taiwan Military Garrison Ko Yuan-fen being accomplices.

Other military and intelligence agency personnel were also responsible as well as the media, informants and "half mountain." This term refers to Taiwanese who went to China and joined the KMT during the Japanese colonial rule. They worked with the KMT and were allocated government positions.

Chen Yi-shen called on the public to pressure the legislature to enact a special law dealing with the problems caused by transitional justice.

Chen Yi-shen said that it is an oxymoron to say that Chiang Kai-shek ordered Chen Yi to refrain from "strictly enforcing the law" and warned that military and government personnel should avoid taking vengeance on the people or face "severe punishment."

Chen Yi-shen said that Chiang Kai-shek sent a telegram to Chen Yi on March 13, 1947, asking him to prevent military and government personnel from taking retaliatory measures against the people but it indicated that retaliatory action and slaughter had already taken place.

Declassified documents indicate that Chiang Kai-shek did not take the initiative in giving the order but responded to a request from Control Yuan president Yu You-jen.

Yu made the request after a Control Yuan member, Yang Liang-kung, informed him that government and military officials in Taiwan had abused their power and arrested people without justification. Yang also proposed that the central government should stop the administration in Taiwan from taking revenge.