Last month Yunlin County’s Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) fined “Liufang Matsu of Dabeishi District” for breaking the Waste Disposal Act, which caused a heated debate at a county council meeting on May 28. Yunlin County Councilor Lee Chien-chih criticized the bureau for issuing a ticket to a deity, saying the move was preposterous. Fellow Yunlin County councilors Shen Ming-kung and Tsai Chiu-min also said they think the bureau is flawed.
Local ceremonial activities for the Liufang Matsu statue, including censer ceremonies and processions, are very important traditions in Yunlin County. Liufang Matsu does not have a temple where offerings can be made, so instead village leaders from the Yunlin County area, including Douliou, Dounan, Hunan, Huwei, Tuku and Dabei Township’s Wuku Village, take turns organizing the ceremonial offerings. Tens of thousands of worshippers usually turn up for the censer ceremonies and procession events.
Lee said that Douliou’s Dabeishi District was in charge of holding this year’s censer ceremony and procession, which was held on May 6. After the event, however, they received an official notice from the EPB unexpectedly charging “Liufang Matsu of Dabeishi District” with breaking the law, saying, “You broke the Waste Disposal Act on May 3 and must pay a fine of NT$1,200.”
Lee said that writing “Liufang Matsu” on the ticket means the deity is the one being fined, begging the question whether they should perform a rite in which the ticket is incinerated to relay the message to Liufang Matsu, and then throw divination blocks to ask the goddess whether she received the message? The EPB is improperly executing the law, Lee says.
1. fine v.
開罰 (kai1 fa2)
例: The police fined her for littering.
2. flawed adj.
有瑕疵的 (you3 xia2 ci1 de5)
例: The system is flawed. How can you fix it?
3. administrative adj.
行政的 (xing2 zheng4 de5)
例: These minor administrative details can be easily overlooked.
Shen said the incident shows how inept the EPB’s administrative process is and that it is in need of serious review. Tsai, on the other hand, said that fining Matsu is the biggest joke in national history, and that as a follower of the goddess, she decided to pay the fine for her.
Yeh Te-hui, director of the bureau, said an EPB employee was sent to the intersection of Paochang and Changping roads after receiving a complaint from a local resident. The employee then wrote a ticket for breaking the Waste Disposal Act after finding a banner hanging across the road illegally. The person who represents Liufang Matsu has already been added to the back of the official document, Yeh says.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)