Not only do the local urban planning proposals of local governments fail to reflect this, they are actually proposing more expansion, to take advantage of the current wave of price increases. And yet the Cabinet continues to indulge these plans, and the interior ministry continues to play along in its urban planning reviews and land expropriation reviews, as if it has not taken a blind bit of notice of the updates issued by the Control Yuan.
Finally, according to the Construction and Planning Agency figures, there are currently 1.56 million empty apartments in Taiwan, including 329,000 in New Taipei City (新北市), 199,000 in Greater Taichung, 179,000 in Greater Kaohsiung, 154,000 in Taoyuan, 126,000 in Greater Tainan and 123,000 in Taipei City. In the six major metropolitan areas combined, there are a total of 1.11 million empty apartments.
The public have a right to be angry purely for the fact that housing prices continue to go through the roof regardless of the high vacancy rates. Farmers are taking their own lives because of the land expropriation going on, while financial groups and business tycoons are claiming that NT$1 million (US$33,700) per square meter is not too high an asking price.
It is hard to know whether the entire Cabinet is indifferent to others’ suffering or if it really is at a loss as what to do, but it continues to tolerate the enclosure of land and property speculation by financial groups and local governments.
Chan Shun-kuei is a lawyer and chairman of the Taiwan Bar Association’s environmental law committee.
Translated by Paul Cooper