Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) met members of the Wang family for the first time yesterday after the Taipei City Government demolished the two stand-alone apartment blocks the family owned two weeks ago to make way for an urban renewal project in Shilin District (士林).
“Mr and Mrs Wang wanted me to understand their stance and concern. I told them that as Taipei mayor, they are my residents, and I will listen and try my best to help them,” he said after a brief meeting with Wang Kuang-shu (王廣樹) and his wife.
Hau agreed to meet the couple after the family and about 100 supporters staged a protest in front of the Taipei City Council and confronted the mayor as he entered the building to prepare for a policy report at the council.
Shouting “Mayor of construction firms! Step down!” the protesters clashed with police as they tried to block Hau’s way.
Wang Kuang-shu shouted at Hau: “Why did you tear down our houses?” as his wife burst into tears and begged the mayor to help them.
Swamped by protesters, police and reporters, the mayor patted the couple on the shoulders and invited them to a private meeting in his lounge. However, the mayor left a few minutes later to present his policy report at the council, promising to organize another meeting and communicate with the Wang family soon.
Wang Kuang-shu said he recognized the mayor’s efforts to communicate with them face to face, but added that it was not enough.
“There were no answers or conclusions from the meeting. We expect Mayor Hau and the city government to address our concerns, but so far, we have not received any promise from them,” he said.
The city government tore down two buildings owned by the Wang family last month to make way for a construction project that will turn 38 homes into a 15-story apartment complex.
Although the family had refused to give up its land, the construction firm had received the -consent of more than 75 percent of -neighboring landowners at the time of the demolition.
Citing the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例), the construction firm asked the city government to help it evict the Wangs and -demolish their buildings.
The demolition sparked waves of protest against the city government’s handling of the issue. The Wang family and their supporters are demanding that the city government review the case and rebuild the Wangs’ buildings.
Hau yesterday declined to discuss whether the city government would agree to rebuild the homes, but promised to listen to different opinions in addressing the issue.