Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) was critical of the recent wave of protests over the forced demolition of four houses in Dapu Borough (大埔) in Miaoli County’s Jhunan Township (竹南) yesterday, telling a weekly Cabinet meeting that they were not about “civil disobedience” as the protesters claim.
Jiang’s comments were relayed by Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) to the post-meeting press conference.
She quoted Jiang as saying that the actions of the protesters, including throwing eggs that injured a police officer in Miaoli, splashing water on Deputy Minister of the Interior Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) and acts of vandalism, “were not in line with the ideas of civil disobedience.”
“The term ‘civil’ in civil disobedience means not only ‘citizens,’ but also ‘civilization,’” Cheng quoted Jiang as saying.
Jiang said it was “highly regrettable” that the protestors broke into the Executive Yuan’s compound on Thursday last week, and splashed water and threw eggs at the building, while others jumped over the walls into the Ministry of the Interior’s compound to spray graffiti and plaster stickers on the building and forecourt overnight on Sunday, Cheng said.
People should act in a peaceful and rational manner when protesting and abide by the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法), she quoted the premier as saying.
The Executive Yuan backed the decision by police to take the egging of its building to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office for investigation, Cheng said. Police charged the protesters with vandalism and violating the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法), which protects the Executive Yuan building because it is a designated heritage site.
The deputy minister said that charges could be brought against the protesters as soon as police officers have finished collecting evidence and the damage to the building has been assessed.
Among the demands of the anti-land-grab protesters are the revision of the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) to scrap zone expropriation and having the compensation for expropriated land be decided by three real-estate appraisers instead of the government’s land evaluation commission.
Jiang said the demands were “unworkable in practice,” Cheng said.
Taiwan Rural Front spokeswoman Frida Tsai (蔡培慧) said Jiang should respond to the issue of forced expropriations instead of criticizing protesters.
“The government, under your [Jiang’s] leadership, is the target of the protest, and so your job is to respond to the dispute, not to try to cover things up by making empty remarks,” Tsai said when asked about the premier’s comments.
“The heart of the issue is that the Land Expropriation Act has become a tool of money politics. However, Jiang is not only avoiding the issue, he tries to blur the focus by giving his own definition of ‘civil disobedience,’” she said.
“Are the demolitions in Dapu more justified or does it make it unnecessary to amend the Land Expropriation Act because the protest movement is different from ‘civil disobedience’ as you [Jiang] define it?” she said.
Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin