Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cihu (A Celebration of Dictatorship!)/慈湖(独裁者万歳!)/慈湖(獨裁者萬歲!)

We've reached Cihu, which was our original destination on this day.  What is Cihu?  Cihu is a park dedicated to the former dictator Chiang Kai-shek.  It is also the most unintentionally hilarious tourist destination in Taiwan.

It's hilarious for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it has Chiang's "temporary" tomb which he's totally just using until the Republic of China reconquers the mainland from the Communist insurgents (any day now, I'm sure) at which point he will be properly buried in his hometown.

Secondly, when Taiwan democratized in the 90's, and then elected a president from the DPP (the main political party in opposition to Chiang's own KMT) there was a flurry of activity from parks, schools, and other public institutions who decided that it was inappropriate to continue having statues of the dictator on display.  Instead of just scrapping the statues, they were removed to this park.  The idea was that because the park is a memorial to Chiang Kai-shek, putting the statues here would be more respectful than throwing them away, I guess.  But if you know the back story here, then seeing endless row upon row of statues of the same man just looks hilarious, and also a little desperate on the part of his supporters.

Chiang Kai-shek is a controversial figure.  Like Pinochet in Chile, there are, bizarrely, people who still revere Chiang Kai-shek.  It doesn't help that the political party he was head of is still one of the two major parties in Taiwan, and they don't like the idea of tearing the man down too much since it brings focus to the more sordid parts of their party's past.  As an example of this, despite all of the statues removed to this park, there are still a lot of Chiang statues in various schools and whatnot all over Taiwan--though some of them have been moved to less prominent locations.  He's also still on the money in Taiwan, and every city, town, and podunk hamlet has a street named after him.

Here are the facts though:  The man was a brutal dictator with no respect for the rights of his fellow human beings.  He had people "disappeared" for criticizing him and his regime, and he instituted martial law in Taiwan for about 30 years, so I would suggest that you sit back, relax, and enjoy laughing at the pathetic, tossed-away piece of garbage that he has become here in Cihu.






The grounds are very beautiful.

Do you have your barf buckets ready?  Here comes the parade!


Some of the statues are actually not of Chiang Kai-shek, but of Sun Yat-sen.  Sun Yat-sen is a less controversial figure in Taiwan.  For one thing, I don't think he ever set foot in Taiwan even once.  When he died in 1925, Taiwan was still a Japanese colony.  Sun Yat-sen was much more of a political idealist, and not a brutal dictator, so that helps his reputation too.  The controversy about him is not about his actions so much as it is that, in idolizing him (his statues are still all over, he's also on the money, and every city town and podunk hamlet also has a street named after him) Taiwan is emphasizing that it is the Republic of China, and only part of China, not an independent country.  Of course, that's exactly the point as far as Chinese nationalists are concerned, but since most Taiwanese people nowadays are in favor of independence, and self identify as "Taiwanese" rather than "Chinese" this makes the Sun Yat-sen worship a little out of place.

There's nothing inherently wrong or controversial with respecting a political philosopher from another country--especially since Sun Yat-sen's political ideas contributed to the current Taiwanese constitution--but since the current government of the country Sun Yat-sen is from, China, has a couple thousands missiles pointed at Taiwan lest they should dare to utter the word "independence", well, it changes the relationship with Sun Yat-sen a little.

しかし、実は銅像は全て蒋介石というわけではない。中には(下の銅像みたいに)孫文のものも混じっている。孫文は蒋介石ほど嫌われていない。まず、一度も台湾に来たことはないと思う。1925年孫文が亡くなった時には台湾はまだ日本の植民地で新しい中国政府を立てようとする孫文はたぶん台湾を気にかける余裕は絶対なかった。というか、恐らく一回も台湾のこと 考えたことはなかったのだろう。



The statues all identify where they are from.  This one is from a middle school in Kaohsiung.

In case you hadn't had enough idolatry already, we now get to view Chiang Kai-shek in various poses!  Sitting in Chinese garb:


Sitting in western clothes:
(This one is Sun Yat-sen.)
With a bug (or maybe bird poop) on his mouth!
Standing with a cane:
It's also really fun reading the signs about the statues.
Here's a series of shots looking almost 360 degrees around a center point:

And what's in that center point?  Why another statue, of course!
Sun Yat-sen was very popular amongst Chinese communities abroad (and he himself spent a lot of time in countries like Hawaii, Japan, and the US) and received a lot of assistance from foreign Chinese communities when he was trying to set up a new, modern China.

We also have tiny-head Chiang:

Hat Chiang:
Lecturing-on-Political-Principles-Which-He-Himself-Did-Not-Have Chiang
Ah, here's a more honest statue.  Fun Fact: Did you know that swords can be used to cut off the heads of your political opponents?  Try it out at home!

Dandy-on-the-Town Chiang

This is Chiang Kai-shek's son, Chiang Ching-kuo.  He's not hated as much as Kai-shek because he wasn't quite as much of a horrible monster, and ever so slightly liberalized Taiwan's government near the end of his reign, but that's about the best I can say about him.


The rain makes it appear that he's bleeding from the eyes and mouth.  I wonder if he or his father ever had anyone in custody for crimes against the state beat up so hard that they started to bleed from their eyes and mouth?  Oh, what am I saying, of course they did!


The book says "San Min Jhu Yi".  This was the political philosophy of Sun Yat-sen when he helped found the Republic of China.  A little known fact is that this statue is based on an actual event where the artist saw Chiang Kai-shek headed to the bathroom whilst holding this book.  (He was all out of constitution to wipe with, you see.)


Just a note, "spontaneous" in the sign below has a slightly different meaning than usual.  Here it means:  If I don't do this, the secret police might call me in to ask why I don't love the motherland and her valiant protector.  (Actually, if this statue was in an area with lots of military families, the bowing may have been honestly spontaneous.  Still creepy though.)


The signs in this park gloss over the fact that most of the statues are here because they were going to be disposed of otherwise.  I read the sign in front of this statue, and I looked up some stuff online, and while I couldn't find anything outright stating this to be the case, reading between the lines I suspect that this statue was headed for the scrap heap and literally saved at the last minute.  It was originally on display in Kaohsiung, a city where Chiang is particularly unpopular.  It seems that the government of the city decided to have the statue cut up and removed from the site very suddenly, and that the work was done at night.



Chiang Kai-panda!?

The sun was starting to go down at this point.

These kids look starved and abused.  Perhaps their parents disappeared suddenly one night and haven't been seen since.  Horribly tragic how that happens sometimes...  Don't worry kids!  The Three Principles will keep you afloat I'm sure!

This statue also looks like a saw may have been taken to it.  Look at his head.
Pretty birds
And a giant leaf near the bus stop.  We're outta here!
I saw this ad for an English school on the bus, and I found myself thinking that they've probably never read 1984.  What a creepy name for a school...
看「double plus」我就想起來叫做「一九八四」的小說。有看過的人就知道。
Still more photos to come.  See you next time.

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