The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation yesterday announced that it would retract its proposed development plan to set up a logistics center and workshops for disaster relief in a geologically sensitive protected area in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖), while saying that it would make public all records about donations by its followers and how the money is spent.
Tzu Chi deputy chief executive Wang Tuan-cheng (王端正) told a news conference in Hualien that the foundation is “deeply unnerved” by the controversy sparked by the development plan and would retract its proposal to rezone a 4.4 hectare plot until society could reach a consensus on the issue.
Environmentalists say that the proposed site is located on a former pond which the foundation illegally reclaimed, increasing the chances of flooding in nearby farmland.
In addition, potential dip slopes are present in the area, which could lead to landslides, they say.
To promote environmental protection, Tzu Chi would cooperate with the Taipei City Government and seek advice on how to care for the protected area, Wang said.
Furthermore, Tzu Chi would restructure itself by inviting reputable individuals to serve as members of its board of directors to monitor and improve the foundation’s operations, he said.
Foundation deputy chief executive Lin Pi-yu (林碧玉) said Tzu Chi would make information about donations available online from Friday, while expenditure would be made public starting from Wednesday next week.
Lin made the announcement after media personalities Clara Chou (周玉蔻) and Jimmy Wang (汪潔民) last week accused Tzu Chi of pocketing donations, including a NT$1.5 billion (US$47.1 million) sum from its emergency reserve to purchase real estate.
Stock analyst Huang Shih-tsung (黃世聰) alleged that the foundation misappropriated funds it acquired for disaster relief to purchase bonds and stock.
Environmental activists criticized Tzu Chi’s announcement.
Treasure Our Land, Taiwan secretary-general Lin Tzu-lin (林子淩) said Tzu Chi is trying to buy time to gather the opinions of those who are in favor of the project and that it still intends to develop the protected area.
“What is the point in vowing to publish its accounts when there is so much confusion about its past dealings? Besides, it failed to respond to accusations it bought stock using donations,” Lin said.
In a press release, Taipei Deputy Mayor Charles Lin (林欽榮) expressed his thanks to Tzu Chi for proactively resolving years of controversy surrounding the development proposal.
He said the city government would send the withdrawal documents to the Taipei Urban Planning Commission as soon as they were received, expressing his hope that the land could become part of a gradual restoration of the ecology of Dahu (大湖).
Additional reporting by Abraham Gerber
EFFICIENCY: The rules for Philippine arrivals were revised after 17.6% of arrivals with symptoms tested positive, compared with 0.7% of those with no symptoms Starting today, Chinese spouses who hold a reunion permit can apply to enter Taiwan and travelers without symptoms from the Philippines do not need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, but are to be tested after a 14-day quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that from today, Chinese who are married to a Taiwanese citizen and hold a reunion permit can apply to the National Immigration Agency for entry into Taiwan. Chinese who are married to a foreign national and hold an accompanied reunion permit
CONSOLIDATION? Taiwan Thinktank deputy executive-general Doong Sy-chi said Beijing’s intimidation tactics are further alienating those who identify as Chinese Only 2 percent of respondents to a poll on constitutional amendments and national identity identified as Chinese, while 62.6 percent identified as Taiwanese, the Taiwan Thinktank said yesterday. Legislators have proposed amendments to the Additional Articles of the Constitution (憲法增修條文), which would change the definition of the nation’s territory, remove the Taiwan Provincial Government as an entity, prioritize the use of “Taiwan” for national groups at international events, and remove restrictions on defining the national emblem, national flag and national anthem. The poll showed that 80.5 percent of respondents agreed that the nation should participate as “Taiwan” at events organized by world
MISTAKE: The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is not a UN body, and the government is committed to protecting the nation’s name, Joseph Wu said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday condemned the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its Web site, and asked that it correct the error. The organization was inaugurated in Brussels in 2016 as a global coalition of mayors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Six Taiwanese cities at the time joined the coalition as cities in “Taiwan,” the ministry said. However, officials from the Kaohsiung City Government — one of the organization’s members — last week noticed that the city was now listed on the organization’s Web site as a
BALANCED DEVELOPMENT: TSMC chairman Mark Liu said the firm is committed to local investment: a third in the north, a third in the center, a third in the south Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, yesterday said that, based on its strategy of balancing capacity, it plans to make northern Taiwan its manufacturing hub for advanced technologies that go beyond 2 nanometers. “As the company is committed to investing in Taiwan, we try to deploy one-third [of our total production capacity] in the north and have one-third each in the center and south” of the nation, TSMC chairman Mark Liu (劉德音) told reporters on the sidelines of Semicon Taiwan’s Master Forum in Taipei. TSMC last year reached its goal of deploying capacity equally across those parts