Despite opposition from the rest of the Wang (王) family and activists, who have supported the family for years in their campaign against the forcible expropriation of their home, family member Wang Yao-te (王耀德) yesterday brought a demolition squad to flatten a temporary housing unit belonging to the family in Shilin District (士林), Taipei City.
“I am sorry, but I had to make the decision quickly to prevent a destructive outcome from happening to me. I know it is a selfish decision, because I only thought about protecting myself, not others,” Wang Yao-te said in a written statement released as the demolition squad he hired was tearing down the temporary housing unit on the site where the family house used to stand.
“But I have to say that I cannot allow myself to sit and watch as the battle develops, and suffer harm that I will not be able to bear,” Wang Yao-te added.
Despite opposition from the Wangs, the Taipei City Government approved an urban renewal project initiated by Le Young Construction Co and forcibly demolished two townhouses belonging to the family two years ago.
The Wangs, as well as the Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal (TAVUR) and their supporters, built a temporary housing unit on the plot of land on which the family houses used to stand, and were involved in physical, verbal and legal conflicts with the construction firm and 36 other households that agreed to the urban renewal project.
Wang Yao-te, who collectively owns the land with his father and other relatives, said he felt the family was losing the battle when the court ruled in January that the Wangs are illegally occupying the plot of land.
He became frightened when other family members and the TAVUR collected NT$17.56 million (US$578,000) in loans from the public to use as a deposit for an appeal against the ruling.
He accused the TAVUR of “borrowing” money from the public for him without his consent — though other members of the family, including his father, Wang Kuang-shu (王廣樹), also agreed to it — and asked whether the group “runs the court or supervises the judge, so that they could be so sure that the deposit would be returned.”
“I am sorry, but I am not willing to carry tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions, of NT dollars in debt to allow TAVUR’s further resistance” against the construction firm, Wang Yao-te said.
Although he decided to give up and tear down the house, others in the family — including his father, uncles Wang Ching-chuan (王清泉) and Wang Chia-chun (王家駿), and grand-aunt Wang Yang Mei-yu (王楊美玉), as well as TAVUR members and student activists — still insisted on resisting the demolition. They engaged in physical clashes with construction workers sent by Le Young when the firm was fencing off the plot of land on which the temporary housing unit stood.
“My son was foolish and made the wrong decision because he believes false rumors,” Wang Kuang-shu told a news conference yesterday afternoon.
“I will talk to him and to our lawyer to decide what to do next, but I am certain that I will not give up,” he said.
Wang Kuang-shu said that in recent days Wang Yao-te told him that Le Young has filed a lawsuit, asking for compensation of NT$200 million from the family to make up for the firm’s losses in the past two years which were caused by their resistance.
However, the family’s lawyer, Thomas Chan (詹順貴), said he has checked with the court and there was no record of Le Young filing a lawsuit.
“I can’t verify this, but I think maybe Le Young has been feeding Wang Yao-te with false information,” Chan said, adding that they would continue to campaign whether the rumor is true or not.