The Taipei High Administrative Court yesterday struck down Asia Cement Corp’s (亞泥) permit renewal for a mine in Hualien County’s Sincheng Township (新城), giving the Truku people a hard-won victory, civic groups said.
After operating the marble quarry for nearly 40 years, the company’s application to extend its permit to continue operations for another 20 years was approved by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in March 2017, months before it was set to expire on Nov. 22, 2017.
A massive protest gathered on Taipei’s Ketagalan Boulevard in June 2017, after aerial footage shot by filmmaker Chi Po-lin (齊柏林) — who was killed on June 10, 2017, in a helicopter crash while at work — appeared to show that the firm had expanded its operations at the quarry.
Photo: Wang Chun-chi, Taipei Times
After reviewing an administrative lawsuit filed by four Truku against the ministry in 2017, the court yesterday ordered the ministry to revoke its approval for the permit extension, as well as its rejection of the appeal.
A self-help group against Asia Cement hailed the ruling as “a win for the Truku people.”
In its ruling, the court referred to the developer’s failure to obtain local Aborigines’ approval for extending mining operations in their domains, as is required by Article 21 of the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民族基本法), the group said in a statement.
While negotiations among the Truku, Asia Cement and the ministry are ongoing, they hope that discussions for geological and land surveys, as well as quarry transformation would yield concrete results, the group added.
The ruling is a landmark in transitional justice for Aborigines, said Legal Aid Foundation lawyer Hsieh Meng-yu (謝孟羽), who has been assisting the plaintiffs.
Hopefully, the verdict would prompt an equal negotiation between the Truku, the ministry and Asia Cement, he added.
Applauding the court’s ruling, Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan urged the government to amend the Mining Act (礦業法) to close potential loopholes and to achieve President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) call to promote transitional justice.
Amendments to the Mining Act have been stalled at the Legislative Yuan for more than a year, organization member Huang Ching-ting (黃靖庭) said, adding that the group is awaiting cross-caucus negotiations in the next legislative session starting in September.
The ministry said that it would determine whether to appeal the ruling within two months after receiving the official verdict.
Following instructions from Tsai, the ministry has supervised three meetings between members of the Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee, representatives of a local Truku committee and Asia Cement in an attempt to resolve conflicts, it said, adding that it is seeking a triple-win situation.
Asia Cement said it was disappointed about the decision and would appeal to uphold the rights of shareholders and employees within the legal time limit after it receives the verdict and consults with lawyers.
Asia Cement said that as the extension would be a continuation of mining rights, not new permissions, it is not covered by Article 21 of the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act, a decision that was made by the Executive Yuan in November 2016 and is followed by the ministry and the Council of Indigenous Peoples.
The company said the ruling would “seriously affect” any cases concerning extension of mining rights and land development, which would leave the industry bewildered, damage government credibility, harm the economy and take jobs from workers — including Aborigines.
Additional reporting by Natasha Li and Kwan Shin-han
BRIBERY CASE: President Tsai Ing-wen accepted Su Jia-chyuan’s resignation as he said that he deeply regretted causing trouble for the president due to the investigation Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday resigned after his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), was implicated in a bribery case related to a dispute over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). “I resigned from the post so that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would not be bothered by it anymore, and the prosecutors can investigate the case in a fair and just manner. I thank President Tsai once again for supporting me. May the country continue to prosper under her leadership,” Su Jia-chyuan said in a statement. The Presidential Office said that Tsai has accepted
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South