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September 23, 2017

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OCAC minister to give up 228 Foundation chair

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC, 僑委會) Minister Steven Chen (陳士魁) yesterday said he is willing to quit his chairmanship at the 228 Memorial Foundation (二二八基金會).

Chen made the pledge amid criticism raised by an opposition lawmaker yesterday at the Legislative Yuan who said that Chen's holding of both posts at the same time makes it hard for him to do a good job in either.

During an interpellation session at a Legislative committee yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) said that as the head of the OCAC supervising the affairs of overseas Taiwanese around the world, Chen has to constantly travel over the world to attend the needs of Taiwanese expatriates.

Chen is also chair of the 228 Memorial Foundation, which is another important job where he takes care of the needs of the thousands of families of the victims in the 228 Incident of 1947.

Citing related regulations, Chiu said a politically appointed government officials like Chen are not allowed to also work at a government-founded legal foundation such as the 228 Memorial Foundation.

In response, Chen, who fielded questions during the session, said he was appointed by the Executive Yuan to become the chair of the foundation in August, 2013 in his then capacity as Minister without Portfolio.

 He was later appointed as OCAC chief during a cabinet reshuffle.

He disclosed that he took up the post in the foundation because he is also a family member of victims of the 228 incident.

"I believe I have the obligation to do something for those who suffered in the incident," he said.

 He said however that he is willing to step down from the post if the Cabinet thinks he should do so.

 Chen previously told local media that his uncle from Yilan County was executed in the wake of the 228 incident by the then-ruling Kuomintang (KMT) government.

 The 228 Incident of February 28, 1947 was an anti-government uprising that was brutally suppressed by the military on behalf of the KMT.

 In 1992, a report on the incident published by the Executive Yuan estimated that the number of dead during and after the incident is between 18,000 and 28,000.

 In 1997, the government designated Feb. 28 a national holiday and since then commemorative activities have been held around the island every year.

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