Thu, Mar 16, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Taiwanese culture at risk, say legislators

HERITAGE Democratic Progressive Party legislators claim that plans to renovate a military residence in Taichung threaten not only historical relics, but also culture itself

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislators yesterday stated their displeasure with plans to demolish a military residence in Chingshui Township (清水), Taichung County, saying that Taiwanese culture is at risk.

The Ministry of National Defense has been renovating its military residences -- which typically provide housing for dependants of permanent force members -- since 1980, demolishing old bases, constructing new ones and relocating military families.

But such actions may cause irreparable damage to military community culture, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said.

In addition, the renovations in Taichung County also threaten the Chungshe Relics (中社), which were discovered during the construction of the Taichung County Seaport Art Center in 1997, he said. Pottery shards, shells and animal and human bones dating back 1,500 years were unearthed. Although parts of the site were ruined during construction, well-preserved areas still remain, Tsai said.

Tsai said that the ministry and the National Property Bureau should immediately halt the renovations as well as the build-operate-transfer (BOT) project in the area in order to preserve local culture.

BOT projects are carried out after old houses in military residences have been torn down so that the land can be divided into smaller parcels and sold, Tsai said.

The land should be given to the Council for Cultural Affairs so that it can preserve the site, Tsai said, rather than risk the relics being destroyed by a contractor. The relics could also be used to promote tourism in Taichung, he added.

Hu Shu-hsien (胡淑賢), a history teacher at Chingshui High School, said that the old military houses have not all been torn down yet.

"The [military residences] are significant because they represent the threat of war and the hope of peace," Hu said.

Military culture should be preserved along with the Chungshe Relics to form a larger cultural area, she said.

DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) accused the ministry of thinking only about structural renovations but neglecting the cultural aspects of the area.

Lee said that discussions would be held between legislators and the Council for Cultural Affairs next week, and that plans would be drawn up with the National Property Bureau before next month.

Tsai said that the Ministry of National Defense and the National Property Bureau would have to reach an agreement before the Council for Cultural Affairs could step in.

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