The long-running dispute over the Miaoli County Government’s plan to demolish four houses in Dapu (大埔) in the county’s Jhunan Township (竹南) for a controversial development project looks set to drag on as a meeting called by Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) on the issue yesterday ended inconclusively.
“There was no discussion whatsoever at the meeting as to whether the four houses should remain or should be demolished,” Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) said after the meeting attended by Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻), among others.
Since the Miaoli County Government is in charge of the project, Wu has told Liu to “handle the case properly” in line with the conclusion reached at negotiations in 2010 and decisions made by the Ministry of the Interior’s urban planning review committee, Cheng said.
Asked whether these meant the four houses could be saved, Cheng said she could not speak for the county government.
On Thursday, Wu called on the county government to postpone its demolition plans and scheduled last night’s meeting. It was thought that Wu would reverse the decision made by the Ministry of the Interior’s urban planning review committee on April 24 last year to honor his pledge Wu made as premier in 2010 that the houses would be preserved.
Later last night, Liu thanked the central government for its support and said the plan to demolish the four houses remained unchanged.
The county government will follow the decision made at the urban planning review committee to carry out the demolition plan, Liu said.
Disputes over the impending demolition of four houses in Dapu escalated after the four households received new demolition orders from the county government last month, asking them to tear down their own homes by yesterday.
While supporters of the four families held up signs and took to the streets in Dapu in a protest yesterday against the demolition plans, at a separate setting Jiang said that the government had not planned to demolish the houses to make way for a science park project, insisting that it instructed the county government to handle the issue in accordance with the committee’s decision.
Citing the committee decision, Jiang said that at least three of the four households will not face immediate demolition of their homes, and that the government would continue negotiating with the residents to resolve the dispute.
According to the minutes of the committee’s meeting in April last year, the home of local resident Ko Cheng-fu (柯成福) is to be demolished, as its joint owner Kuo Su-li (郭淑莉) approved the demolition and has accepted compensation from the county. Unless Ko and Kuo can reach a consensus on the issue, the county government will demolish the building.
A house owned by Huang Fu-ji (黃福記) will not be demolished, as the county government said only changes to its walls were necessary.
The committee said part of the remaining two houses, belonging to Peng Hsiu-chun (彭秀春) and Chu Su (朱樹), are located on planned roads for the science park, but the county government agreed to “keep the houses on the site temporarily” and set up traffic control measures before construction of the roads began.
The conclusion failed to resolve the dispute, as local authorities have insisted on tearing down the two houses because the buildings would obstruct traffic, and the houses may need to be demolished when road construction starts.
Jiang said that if the county government planned to open roads in the area, “decisions will be made at another time,” while insisting that the Executive Yuan will continue communicating with the county government and the residents over the issue.
“The Executive Yuan has maintained the same stance on the issue, which is for the county government to handle it according to the committee’s decision. There are no changes or U-turns of government policy and there will be no immediate demolition of any houses because of the decision,” he said at a meeting at the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters in Taipei.
Wu yesterday said the government will resolve the dispute and accused local media of distorting his words.
“I said three years ago that we hoped all the houses could be left intact on the site, but I also said the government will compensate families whose houses must be demolished ... Some media coverage has failed to present the whole truth,” he said.
Meanwhile, responding to yesterday’s inconclusive meeting, the Taiwan Rural Front (TRF) accused the government of being “irresponsible” and “dysfunctional.”
TRF researcher Chen Ping-hsuan (陳平軒) said that although the Executive Yuan had urged the county government to act according to the results of previous negotiations and regional planning meetings, this was not straightforward.
“There were different conclusions at different meetings. Shouldn’t you [the central government] at least tell the county government which to follow?” he asked.
He added that activists would not give up their resistance and would start organizing 24-hour patrols near the four houses.
Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin