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Taiwan: Who Needs A Founding Father?

Dr. Sun Yat-sen on every NTD 100

Does Dr. Sun Yat-sen deserve the title of “the Founding Father of Republic of China (R.O.C)”? Is he really a flawless idealistic political leader and the hero behind the revolution that overthrew Qing Dynasty? Being a shared historical icon between the mainland China and ROC (Taiwan), the myth around Dr. Sun has been under scrutiny in Taiwan where people do not identify themselves as “Chinese” anymore. The preparation of the 100th anniversary of R.O.C marked by a documentary project on Sun Yat-sen's life has stirred up the controversy, both on mainstream and online media.

Taiwan-Republic of China-is going to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2011 and the Taiwanese Government has set up the “Republic of China (Taiwan) Centenary Foundation” exclusively for the preparation of a series of activity and promotion. A major celebration ceremony and march will be held along with many other events, contests, and media promotion all around Taiwan, and Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s biographical documentary is among one of them. This NT$20 million (US$627,000) documentary project is sponsored by Council for Cultural Affairs and is going to be carried out by the Republic of China (Taiwan) Centenary Foundation.

The controversy started when Chou Yang-Shan (周陽山), a former legislator of Legislative Yuan and now a council member of Control Yuan, and Hu Fu (胡佛), a scholar of politics and council member of Academia Sinica, wrote a joint open letter [zht]  to warn the Council for Cultural Affairs and the production team of this documentary project to “proceed with caution and carefully depict historical events” after Ping Lu(平路), a writer and advisor of this documentary, said that Sun was a figure who “even Vladimir Lenin would have ridiculed as naive and innocent.”

Ping Lu was criticized as “Frivolous and insolent” by Chou, who also claimed to investigate into the historical facts of the documentary using the power of Control Yuan member. The editorial from Taipei Times on Aug 18 accused Chou's action a major threat to freedom of speech.

Indeed, history is full of controversy in particular when people's identification is at odd with the “official history”. Blackjack tries to differentiate between ROC (China) and ROC (Taiwan)denies Sun Yat-sen being the Founding Father of “ROC (Taiwan)”. For him, the regime of ROC (China) had ended 60 years ago under Chiang Kai-shek:

現在的「國父孫中山爭議」我認為「言不正名不順」,中華民國在台灣的「國父」應該是蔣介石,「戒嚴總統」蔣介石則是類似「洪憲帝制」的袁世凱。中華民國在中國早已「百年」,中華民國在中國是死於1949蔣介石之手,中華民國在台灣則是從蔣皇介石開始。

The “Founding Father Sun Yat-sen’s debate” is wrong at the beginning. The Founding Father of ROC (Taiwan) should be Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang Kai-shek “the martial law President” was similar to Yuan Shikai “the Great Emperor of Hongxian(洪憲)”. The regime of ROC (China) came to an end in 1949 under Chiang Kai-shek. ROC (Taiwan) was born when Chiang Kai-shek became the new emperor.

Ching Hung Lin points out that the controversy is a reflection of the China complex among Taiwanese:

國父建立中華民國時,台灣仍被日本統治,當國父奉安於南京中山陵,台灣依舊還在日本的殖民統治勢力下,對國父來說,從生到死,台灣從未是中華民國的一部分,至少在國父建構的中華民國下,台灣對於國父來說,是否只是當作日本的統治地?國父可曾想過把台灣從日本人手中收歸中華民國統治呢?

When Sun established the Republic of China, Taiwan was still under Japan’s rule. When Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum was built, Taiwan was still a Japan colony. During Dr Sun's lifetime, Taiwan was never a part of Republic of China, not at least under the ROC founded by Dr. Sun. Had Dr. Sun ever regarded Taiwan a part of China? or it was always owned by Japan? Had Dr. Sun ever thought of taking Taiwan back into ROC from Japan?

對國父這位偉人的冷熱反映與親疏感覺,可以判斷台灣人有多少中國情結,對於自己身為中國人有多少認同,在台灣土地上的任何一個人都可以捫心問問自己,到底我對國父有多熟悉?究竟這位開國元勳在個人印象中有多重要?還是,最後我們只剩下百元紙鈔上的共同印象?

The different degree of attachment towards Dr. Sun – the great hero – indicates the depth of China complex – how much they are identified themselves with “Chinese” – among Taiwanese. Everyone living on this land can pose the following questions to yourself: how well do I know Dr. Sun? Does this national figure really matter to you? Or he is merely an image in our NTD 100 paper money?

Samhain believes that Chou is being self-defensive:

我就說吧,周陽山這三研所出身的人,正是不自覺的在「自衛」。
因為,這一開拍,粉可能會把他們苦心經營百年的「神」給毀了。
讓這些人跳腳的「不合的史實」,才正是史實。嘿嘿。

I say, Chou Yang-shan, who was from the Institute of San-min Doctrine, is “defending themselves” without much awareness.
Because, once the production of this documentary began, the “god” that they painstakingly constructed for the past century will possibly be destroyed.
The “deviated historical facts” that agitate these guys are the real historical facts, hehe.

不說孫先生的私德部分。
就說公領域的部分吧。
中華民國建國後(或者說大清帝退位後),有幾強國「承認」這個新政權??
沒啥大國要鳥孫中山,這是史實。

Let’s put aside Sun's private life first.
Let ‘s focus on his public face.
After the establishment of Republic of China (or after the last Emperor of Qing Dynasty stepped down), how many world powers did “recognize” this new regime?
No one bothers to pay attention to Sun Yat-sen, and this is the fact.

順便再一提,孫家後代,幾乎可說都是「外國人」,應該也沒人在台灣。
不管國民黨是不是流亡政權啦,
講白些,姓孫的都不要中華民國了,為啥我們不能不要啊??

One more thing: most of Sun's descendants are “foreigners” now, and probably no one is based in Taiwan.
Put aside the debate of whether Kuomintang is a ruling party in exile or not.
To speak bluntly, if Sun’s descendants themselves don’t want ROC, why can’t we throw it away altogether?

Torrent digs deeper into the history and suggests that Sun’s myth was a conscious construct by Sun and people after:

孫文倒袁的二次革命失敗流亡日本後,將革命失敗歸咎於同志思想不純、不思團結,他在東京成立中華革命黨,強調對領袖個人完全效忠,入黨誓文如下:
………………..
一、實行宗旨;二、服從命令;三、盡忠職務;四、嚴守秘密:五、誓共生死。從茲永守此約,至死不渝。如有二心,甘受極刑。

After the failure of second revolution against Yuan Shikai, Sun was exiled in Japan, and he blamed the failure to his comrades’ impure ideology and lack of solidarity. He then established Chinese Revolutionary Party in Tokyo, demanding complete loyalty to the leader. The oath of joining the party is as follows:
—————-
1. Fulfill the principle; 2. Obey orders; 3. Respect your duty; 4. Keep secret; 5. Live and die together; From now on, I will follow my oath to death. If I don’t, I would accept the ultimate punishment.

這根本就是黑道歃血為盟,除了這種仿照傳統封建會黨的組織形式,還包括了「凡中國同胞皆有進本黨之權利義務」「凡於革命軍未起義之前進黨者,名為首義黨員……革命成功之日,首義黨員悉隸為元勳公民,得一切參政、執政之優先權利……凡非黨員在革命時期之內不得有公民資格。」連臨時約法中「中華民國人民,一律平等」的原則都完全拋棄,卻仍能妄稱護法。

This is just like member of the triad society drinking blood for the union. Besides such organization that imitated traditional feudal solidarity, the oath also included “Every Chinese people has the right and obligation to join the party”, “If you join the revolutionary army before uprising, then you are entitled to become one of the First Honorable Member…on the day of victory, the First Honorable Members will all be registered as Founding Citizens who enjoy all privilege of political rights……Non-party members cannot obtain citizen rights during revolution time”. Such oath completely abandoned the principle of “All people of Republic of China are equal” listed in Provisional Constitution, but he still claimed to have “protected the constitution”.

Youtien thinks Chou is just repeating old Kuomintang’s position and narratives, while the audiences are actually expecting something else:

問題是:觀眾可能並不想建立什麼客觀、真實的認識。現在是理想主義低潮已極的年代,人可能根本對此冷感,只預期相關論爭會再次流於打爛仗,以印證我對政治的鄙視;也可能自始便是為了踩國民黨、批台獨、反共或抬高文藝、貶抑政治等等好惡,來期待此民國百年紀錄片相關議題給我作註腳或批判材料。而能如學者所欲,詳細切實地看待孫文及歷史的人,已能自去多方閱覽,不必再等一篇文章、一部片給他啟蒙;另外,許多對意識形態已具免疫力的觀眾,也未必想追究國民黨的功過是非及民主政治的前途,而或更樂意探討孫文的情史、八卦以娛浮生。

The questions is: audience may not want to build any objective knowledge (of Sun). This is the era when idealism is at its lowest point, and people are probably indifferent to this issue. They just anticipate that the debate will turn into another muddy fight and will again prove their contempt against politics; they may also expect this centenary documentary of ROC to become a footnote or resources for trampling on Kuomintang, criticizing Taiwan independence and attacking the Communist Party. To uphold culture and art while depreciate politics. People who are serious about history and Sun can compose their own reading list from multiple sources, and they do not need to be enlightened by another article or film. By the way, for many audiences who are already immune to ideologies might not want to investigate Kuomintang’s merits and demerits or the future of democratic politics. Instead, they may be more interested in exploring Sun’s romance and gossips for entertainment.

明乎此,再追問:半生流亡的孫中山,為何能讓那許多女子獻身?又為何能吸引那許多志士追隨?不乏疏漏的《三民主義》又為何得過許多人傾心信奉?循著「女人─革命─讀書」的線索,探究相關論著後,我們或許會發現:孫中山的確浪漫、天真且多空想,真誠、博愛卻又剛愎。但也惟因如此,他敢想、敢做、敢隻手為全中國擘畫未來,敢不顧一切娶朋友之女,敢大張旗鼓爭取到革命大義名分的最高位,將各路黨人包攬到自己的主義光環之下,摒斥異己而無愧。

Now that we know the audiences’ expectation, the questions followed are: How could Sun have so many ladies fall in love with him as a guy who was in exile almost half of his life? How could he attract so many men of aspiration to follow him? How could the San-min Doctrine with so much mistakes to be believed whole-heartedly by so many? While we trace the hints of “Women–Revolution–Study” and research into related essays, we might find out: Sun Yat-sen was really romantic, naive, idealistic, sincere, merciful, and froward. And because of so, he dared to think, to do, to paint a future for China with his hands, to marry his friend’s daughter without any consideration, to overtly fight for the highest title in the revolution, to include diversified party members from different backgrounds into the aura of his doctrine, and to discriminate others without guilt.

如今,我們知道了這種性格的危險,看到了許多革命者得勢後的變質,更明白衝動不能解決問題、政治沒有簡單的解藥;但尚對政治與社會懷抱理想的青年,也就輒被質疑其品性、挑剔其知識,乃至連跨出一小步的自信也沒有了。對此,國父孫中山能給予今日青年久蟄之心的興奮,自然不是他被神化又被丑化的主義與事功,而當是其縱使全世界都冷眼嘲諷,仍敢一意幹到底的熱血精神。

Now, we know the danger of such personality, we see how many revolutionists changed after gaining power, and we therefore understand that impulse cannot solve problems and politics has no elixir. But for young people who still harbor ideals for politics and society, their characteristics are thus doubted and knowledge criticized, and so their confidence to taking a first step is gone.  In this situation, Sun Yat-sen the Founding Father can give energy to our cynical youth today. Not because of his first mythologized and then uglified doctrines and contributions, but his hot-blooded spirit that went all the way to the end even though the world returned only scoffs, scorns, and taunts.

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