Mon, Apr 09, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Public challenges developer after it sues Wangs, girl

SUE US:The company filed a slander lawsuit against a student for criticizing it, causing hundreds of people to copy her on Facebook, asking that they be sued, too

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Wang Kuang-shu, left, owner of two houses that were demolished to make way for a new apartment complex in Taipei’s Shilin District on March 28, sits on a mattress along with his wife, son and daughter amid rubble at the building site yesterday.

Photo: Huang Chi-hao, Taipei Times

Hundreds of people — including film director Leon Dai (戴立忍) — have challenged Le Young Construction (樂揚建設) to sue them after the company filed a slander lawsuit against a Taipei National University of the Arts (TNUA) student.

The student, Huang Hui-yu (黃慧瑜), posted a comment critical of the firm’s actions surrounding an urban renewal project on her Facebook page.

“To Le Young Construction, the following remark, in quotation marks, is exactly the same as the comment that TNUA student Huang Hui-yu wrote on her Facebook page,” Tai said on his own Facebook page.

“I’ve heard that your respected company has filed a slander lawsuit against Huang for the remark. If this is so, please also file a slander lawsuit against me, thank you,” he wrote.

Huang, a graduate student at the TNUA and a member of the Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal, criticized several construction firms that have initiated urban renewal projects — including Le Young — as “notorious” and hinted they have connections to the mafia.

Le Young Construction, which labels itself as “the No. 1 brand in urban renewal,” is the initiator of the urban renewal project in Taipei City’s Shilin District (士林), which involves demolishing a block of decades-old apartments to make way for a 15-story high-rise luxury housing complex.

Although most of the property owners on the block agreed to the project, a family surnamed Wang (王) that owned two homes there refused to take part and wanted to keep their homes.

However, because the Wangs did not express their objections in writing in the project’s initial phase and because more than 75 percent of the property owners on the block agreed to the project, the Wangs’ homes were forcefully demolished on March 28 by a demolition squad sent by the city government. The demolition squad was escorted by more than 1,000 police officers.

According to the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例), the initiator of an urban renewal project may ask the city government to demolish the properties of those who do not wish to take part in the project, as long as three quarters of property owners on the site agree to the project.

On March 28, about 400 people — many of them college students — rallied outside the Wangs’ properties trying to stop the demolition. They were all removed by force and arrested after physical clashes with the police.

Later on, protesters broke down the construction fence and returned to the site where the Wangs’ homes once stood, and continued to protest.

Le Young last week filed lawsuits against Wang Kuang-shu (王廣樹), head of the Wang family, for breaking the fence and against Huang over her criticism of the company.

Immediately after Tai’s Facebook post, supporters of the Wangs launched an activity on Facebook to post the same statement as Huang and Tai, challenging Le Young to sue them as well.

“I can’t do anything with my friends in person to show support for the Wangs since I’m not in Taipei, but it’s a way of expressing my support if I could also be sued,” Benla Kuang (管中祥), an associate professor at National Chungcheng University’s Department of Communications, said on his Facebook page.

Besides posting the statement to invite a lawsuit, Mickey Lin (林彥瑜), a junior student at National Taiwan University’s Department of Politics, said she would like to launch a fundraising drive to hire an attorney for Huang.

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