Thursday, February 25, 2016

Should He Go?

A controversy over a proposal to remove portraits of Sun Yat-sen in public buildings raises important questions about national symbols and ‘founding fathers’ 

His portrait is in every public building in Taiwan, the stern look above the gray mustache signaling both vision and undoubted ruthlessness. The man is Sun Yat-sen (孫中山), the “founding father” of the Republic of China (ROC). Now legislators from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which for the first time in Taiwan’s history secured a majority of seats in parliament in the Jan. 16 elections, want those portraits to be removed. As expected, the plan has sparked consternation within the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which has described it as an attempt to “destroy” the ROC and fuel “ethnic divisions” in Taiwan. 

The proposal, initiated by DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬), wants the requirement that Sun’s portraits be installed in every public building be dropped and for Sun to no longer be referred to as the nation’s “founding father.” 

My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here (photo: Reuters).

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