With great fanfare, Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) on Friday evening invited Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) to discuss the pending demolition of four farmers’ houses in Dapu (大埔), Miaoli County. The conclusion of the meeting was merely to call on Liu to “handle the matter appropriately” in accordance with previous decisions of the urban and rural planning division of the Ministry of the Interior. By passing the buck back to the county government, central government has once again demonstrated its ineptitude.
The Executive Yuan negotiations on Aug. 17, 2010, concluded that the houses should be preserved in their existing location. Jiang, then minister of the interior, attended the meeting and knows that the four principles concerning traffic safety and public safety, which he has come up with since, were neither discussed nor recorded at the 2010 meeting.
Jiang is just using this as a smokescreen for his negligent handling of the issue in 2010.
On July 17, 2010, farmers and their supporters from Dapu and other areas held an all-night protest on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei. I accompanied representatives of the farmers’ self-help association to the Executive Yuan to negotiate. Wu, then premier, informed us of a plan to preserve the farmers’ houses in the existing location and compensate them with adjoining land. He urged then-Cabinet secretary-general Lin Join-sane (林中森) to give the departments concerned one month to come up with proposals to that effect.
On Aug. 26, Lin wrote to the Ministry of the Interior and the Miaoli County Government, saying: “After meeting with representatives of the protesting farmers for a second time on Aug. 17, we reached the preliminary conclusion that the buildings and the land on which they are built should be preserved in their present locations [and that] the property should be handled by means of special-case transfer or sale. Now I request the Ministry of the Interior to keep pressing the Miaoli County Government to handle the matter appropriately, as soon as possible.”
On Sept. 15, the Ministry of the Interior wrote to the Miaoli County Government saying: “The results of the aforementioned negotiations require the Miaoli County Government to cooperate by changing the urban plan, adjusting the zone expropriation and presenting the plan to the Executive Yuan for approval of transfer or sale in accordance with Article 44, Paragraph 1-4 of the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例). Please proceed promptly.”
This series of events should prove that Jiang’s so-called four principles are a complete fabrication.
If the Executive Yuan, as the nation’s Cabinet and highest executive authority, has lawfully exercised the powers exclusively invested in it, then how can subordinate bodies like the Interior Ministry’s urban and rural planning division and local governments overturn its instructions or add their own conditions and restrictions?
When Jiang was minister of the interior, he also served as director of the urban and rural planning division. While he never attended its meetings to direct its handling of this issue, he exceeded his powers by examining the special-case transfer or sale plan that had been approved by the Executive Yuan. In doing so, he undermined the work Wu had done to assuage public discontent, which is why the government now faces a new wave of public anger and media pressure.
Now Wu and Jiang are asking Liu to handle the matter “appropriately,” though he can hardly be trusted to do so. This government really is completely hopeless.
Chan Shun-kuei is a lawyer.
Translated by Julian Clegg