Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Premier broke his promise on land seizures: farmers

FORCED EVICTION:Wu promised farmers in Dapu and Siangsihliao they would be able to keep their homes, but the orders for expropriation still stand

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter

Several Changhua County residents and activists yesterday accused Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) of breaking a promise he made last year to allow them to keep their houses amid fears of forced evictions.

During a morning press conference in front of the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA), residents from Siangsihliao (相思寮) in Erlin Township (二林) said Wu appears not to have acted on his promise.

“President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) praised Wu as a ‘merciful person’ in his dealings with the land expropriation controversy in Dapu (大埔) and Siangsihliao,” said Hsu Po-jen (許博任), a member of the Siangsihliao Support Group. “However, 10 months have passed [since Wu’s promise] and there are still residents who may face forced eviction.”

Yesterday’s press conference was timed to coincide with a meeting of the agency’s regional planning committee to discuss the future of three Siangsihliao households that face eviction to make way for the Erlin branch of the Central Taiwan Science Park.

Although the situation in Dapu, a borough of Jhunan Township (竹南) in Miaoli County, was not discussed at the meeting, several Dapu residents showed up to support Siangsihliao residents, since both communities face an uncertain future.

In July last year, more than 1,000 people — including farmers from communities that faced forced land seizures for development projects nationwide, students and farming activists — staged an overnight protest against the seizures on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei in front of the Presidential Office.

The following month, Wu met representatives of the groups and promised that the farmers in Dapu and Siangsihliao would be able to keep their houses on the site, while the government would find other plots of land to compensate for the farmland seized by the government.

However, the expropriation orders have yet to be revoked, which the farmers said meant that the evictions could proceed as planned.

“I am very sad to see Wu not keeping his promises,” said Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮), chair of National Chengchi University’s department of land economics, a long-term participant in farming rights movements and opponent of land expropriation.

“Wu is premier and is the Chinese Nationalist Party’s [KMT] vice presidential candidate. How could he not keep his promises?” he asked.

The government “made a show” when media were after them over the issue, “but when the cameras turned away … nothing happened,” he said.

Siangsihliao residents and science park representatives failed to reach an agreement after about two hours of discussions and Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎), who presided over the meeting, said the science park should come up with a solution to settle the matter with the three Siangsihliao households before the next meeting.

No date has been set for that meeting.

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