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Sat, Feb 17, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Activists appeal to Control Yuan on village

RESTORATION Conservationists believe the Taipei City Government is backtracking on its promises over Four Four South Village and are requesting an inquiry

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Conservationists yesterday went to the Control Yuan -- the country's supreme watchdog body -- to file a petition against Taipei City Govern-ment officials, saying the city authorities should be disciplined for their failure to preserve the sole remaining portion of a cultural site in the city.

Yesterday's petition followed countless unsuccessful attempts to seek assistance from the local government concerning the protracted dispute over demolition of Four Four South Village (四四南村).

The village, situated in Hsinyi District of Taipei City, was built in the 1950s as the first military residential compound and is considered by activists a valuable historic site.

"We've gone all out in the past [to petition the city government] over the issue, but it has never yielded any results. Now we are turning to the Control Yuan for help, urging its members to take punitive measures against responsible city government officials, who have duped city residents with their policy U-turn," said Curtis Smith, a Canadian living in the vicinity who has been fighting hard to restore the site.

According to Smith, the core of the controversy stems from the fact that Lin Cheng-hsiou (林正修), director of the city Bureau of Civil Affairs, had promised that a proposal which won first prize in a public design contest would be used as an "ultimate solution" to the site.

"But the reality shows that the city government did not take that proposal into account. Instead, it adopted an utterly different proposal, which would destroy the entire neighborhood and the area has been slated for extensive development in Taipei," Smith said.

In March 1999, the city's Urban Development Bureau held a public design contest asking the public to submit ideas for the use and development of the area.

While the top three contest winners all favored keeping what remained of the village as a cultural site, the city subsequently decided to make it into a park and to hand over part of the village that had already been demolished to the nearby Hsinyi Elementary School.

Smith asked Control Yuan Member Lin Shih-chi (林時機), who received the petitioners yesterday, to launch an investigation into whether city government officials had violated administrative procedure by reversing their decision and whether they should be "morally responsible" for eating their words.

"Whether the city government officials were in violation of administrative procedure in withdrawing their policy will be thoroughly probed in accordance with the law, but [government officials'] morality is beyond the scope of our investigation," Lin said.

Lin said, however, that the matter was debatable since officials' promises were, after all, not tantamount to law.

Questioned by the Taipei Times yesterday, a Civil Affairs Bureau official said that the Bureau had adopted part of the proposal favored by conservationists, but could not adopt it in full as some details contradicted the Urban Development Law (都市計劃法).

"Any urban planning has to comply with the law, so how can we [city government officials] be blamed for abiding by the law?" he said.

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