Tuesday, April 02, 2013

...And Hilarity Ensued: The CKS Design Contest Pwned

The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall website at about 6 pm today. The CKS Design Competition is on the right sidebar, in glorious pink.

The Ministry of Culture really did it this week with its announcement of a CKS Design Contest (event website). The purpose of the contest -- no I'm not kidding you, please finish chewing all the food in your mouth and don't drink anything for the next minute or so -- was to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the death of Soong Mei-ling, celebrate the love that Chiang Kai-shek and Soong Mei-ling had for one another, and of course, celebrate Chinese culture. This would benefit marital harmony and social education. Did I mention the $100,000 NT prize of taxpayer dollars? Yes, this is in 2013, not 1963. Hope you didn't just spew all over your keyboard.

I'm sure it is easy for you to imagine what came next as Taiwan's creative netizens swung into action to mock this incredibly silly and stupid idea. All sorts of designs alluding to Chiang's murderous ways and the dictatorship he ran, like this one above, for example, flooded the event's Facebook page, which has now been removed. The CKS Design website homepage has now been redesigned twice to eliminate items which had been spoofed by young people. Fortunately some of the originally designed website pages are here. Ben has collected some images here. I've posted another version of the original below:

The whole thing is disgusting beyond belief. Lung Ying-tai, the pro-KMT intellectual appointed to head up the Ministry of Culture, has been especially annoying as she struggled to distance herself. She said:
...basically saying that the response to the contest was inappropriate because history is complex and to assign the blame for 2-28 to a single person is "simplistic." As Ben of Letters from Taiwan put it to me, Lung Ying-tai decided to nail her colors to the mast. The CKS design website finally announced today on the login page that the competition had been put on hold. Three days too late.


Sobering it is to contemplate how this could have happened, many people pointed out. Obviously there had to be meetings, committees, design people, and somehow... nobody pointed out how politically and historically insensitive it is to do something like this. Nobody alerted anyone to how people, especially the young, would respond. Amazing -- why do they think CKS statues vanished from public areas? Why do they think last year students at ChengChi U staged a mock funeral for Chiang Kai-shek?

As anyone who has ever worked on a government project here knows, such projects are aimed to please the people at the top, not so much to carry out their stated purpose, with everyone doing CYA all the way up, a situation innumerable department heads have complained about ("Why am I signing off on all this picayune stuff?"). But it means that people at the top must have signed off on it... and at the bottom, where there must be plenty of young people, there must have been a few subversives who gave this thing a push because they knew what would happen.

You'd think someone might have noticed, because the government similarly tried to run an essay contest a while back explaining why the ROC owned the Senkakus, which went over like a lead balloon and was widely derided (ChinaSmack).

This incident may signal how politically tone deaf and out of touch the Ma Administration is, but what this incident also shows is the long historical shadow of the cult of personality the KMT created around the dictator (my post on JE Taylor's paper) as well as the inability of the KMT to come to terms with and genuinely comprehend the enormity of its own recent past.

PS: My thanks to everyone who passed around links and images.
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1 comment:

Tommy said...

"Hiroshima took nine seconds. Changchun took five months." - PLA Lieutanant Colonel Zhang Zhenglu