Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) yesterday said that he would meet with the administrators of schools named after former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) to discuss the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice (促進轉型正義條例), which requires that authoritarian symbols be renamed.
The act is aimed at addressing injustices perpetrated by then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government between Aug. 15, 1945, when the Japanese government announced it had surrendered, to Nov. 6, 1992, when the Period of National Mobilization for Suppression of the Communist Rebellion (動員戡亂時期) was ended in Kinmen and Lienchiang counties.
Article 5 of the transitional justice act, which was passed on Tuesday by the Legislative Yuan, stipulates that “symbols commemorating authoritarian leaders that are found on public structures or in public spaces must be removed, renamed or dealt with in some other manner.”
The legislature’s Education and Culture Committee yesterday deliberated on the Ministry of Education’s budget for next year.
Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Pan said that as public institutions, schools would be required to comply with the new law, adding that he plans to meet with local governments and school administrators to discuss how this can be done.
Part of the process will be finding legally suitable ways of dealing with statues and busts of Chiang found on some school campuses, he said.
Also, schools with names that include the words chung cheng (中正) — a moniker used by Chiang that translates to “fair and honest” — will have to be renamed, he added.
National Chung Cheng University secretary-general Wu Ming-ju (吳明儒) said the school has no predisposition regarding a name change, adding that it would await further instructions from the ministry before making any changes.
As there are many elementary and junior-high schools nationwide that use the name chung cheng, it would be prudent for the ministry to draft a set of measures that schools can take to comply with the new regulations, Wu said.
“The current name has been used [by the university] for 28 years, so any changes should be undertaken cautiously,” Wu said.
When the legislature was in the process of deliberating on the act there were various opinions expressed by schools and students, but those opinions did not likely represent the whole, Wu said.
The university would hold a formal public hearing to gather feedback.