Former Taipei City Councilor and pro-Chinese unification group member Lee Cheng-long (李承龍) has been identified as the main suspect in the beheading of a bronze statue in Tainan City.
The bronze statue, commemorating Japanese civil engineer Yoichi Hatta was found beheaded on Sunday at a memorial park in Guantian, Tainan City. The vandalism incident comes just three weeks before an annual memorial service is to be held at the park.
Liberty Times Network reported that police identified Lee and a female accomplice surnamed Qiu(邱晉芛) from security video. Lee appears to have admitted responsibility on his Facebook page. He posted messages on his page saying that he was heading to Tainan to have coffee with police, and offered an electric saw, ‘only used once’ to the highest bidder.
The park and statue were commissioned in 2011 to honor Hatta’s contributions to Taiwan’s modern development. According to the Japan Times “Hatta was stationed in Taiwan from 1910 until 1942, during which time he built the Chianan Canal and Wushantou Reservoir in the island’s southwestern Chianan Plain as key components in a massive irrigation system, one of many infrastructure projects Japan implemented to modernize Taiwan during its 50-year occupation that ended in 1945.”
Lee posted on his Facebook page that Hatta was a symbol of Japanese colonialism, and that his developments led to farmers being exploited and losing their land. He posted pictures of KMT leader Wu Den-yih making offerings to Hatta at a past memorial service.
Lee, a member of the Chinese Union Party has been charged with various offenses in the past including arson and vandalism. Last year he went on hunger strike while serving time in prison for an incident involving molotov cocktails. Lee protested that hurling petrol bombs is a form of freedom of speech. Lee was released August 26 on NT$100,000 bail.
During this year’s 228 memorial, February 28, Lee punched pro-independence supporters protesting at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
A statue of Chiang Kai-shek was decapitated in the days leading up to the 228 memorial holiday.
Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported yesterday that Chi Mei Museum in Tainan has offered to help repair the statue. The head, however, is yet to be found.