Wed, Sep 25, 2013 - Page 8 News List

Lives sacrificed for development

By Chan Shun-kuei 詹順貴

When Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who was then the premier, presided over negotiations about the proposed demolitions in August 2010, he concluded that the four houses and adjoining land in Dapu should be preserved unconditionally.

When Liu opposed Wu’s conclusion by insisting on demolishing the buildings, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), who had taken part in the negotiations then as the minister of the interior, tried to gloss over this by inventing four so-called principles, including items such as traffic safety, and pretended that these were conditions attached to Wu’s conclusion to suspend demolitions. Jiang’s invented principles indirectly encouraged Liu to go ahead and rapidly demolish the houses and go ahead with the development project.

Jiang and Liu must bear the greatest share of the responsibility for Chang’s death. Recent opinion polls show that most Taiwanese think that Jiang is incompetent and unfit for the post of premier. Jiang and Liu should both resign over their disservice to the public during these events.

As recently as June 6, the Control Yuan issued a corrective measure against the Ministry of the Interior and various city and county governments, principally criticizing them for urban development projects that have got out of hand. The statement points out that development plans that have already been approved cover a total population of 25.1 million people, which is far more than the nation’s actual urban population of 18.7 million. It also states that Taiwan has more than 1.5 million empty building units, yet local governments around the nation are pursuing even more development projects. These facts and figures are a clear indication that something has gone seriously wrong.

Anyone who actively opposes expropriations and so-called urban renewal projects is likely to be labeled as a stick-in-the-mud who is obstructing local development. Others who stand in the way of profits for the rich may be the targets of late-night shootings. The first kind of victims may end up killing themselves, while the second kind get killed by hired thugs. Either way, the system, committed to destructive urban renewal, is the real killer.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his government are currently caught up in a bout of political strife.

Will they go on being insensitive to the needs and suffering of ordinary people, or will they maybe take this opportunity to reexamine and reconsider the existing systems of land expropriation and urban renewal?

Chan Shun-kuei is an attorney for the self-help association for people affected by expropriations in Dapu Borough.

Translated by Julian Clegg

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