Residents of the Sanying Aboriginal Community (三鶯部落) remained suspicious of a promise made by Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei’s (周錫瑋) during a surprise visit on Saturday not to touch the community until a plot of suitable land is found for their relocation.
Hung Feng-chin (洪鳳琴), a spokesman for the Sanying Community, said that Chou and several other county officials had appeared without notice and talked with them for about 30 minutes.
Hung said that Chou told them he had decided to visit the community in person to see how it was after film director Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢) had talked to him.
The community is located on the bank of Dahan River (大漢溪) in Yingge Township (鶯歌), Taipei County, by the Sanying Bridge (三鶯大橋) that connects Sansia Township (三峽) and Yingge.
Most residents are Amis Aborigines who moved to Taipei decades ago to work as construction workers or miners, but could not afford housing in the city.
As their residences were built without construction permits and are located in what the Water Conservation Act (水利法) classifies as a “flood zone,” the county government has flattened the community several times, only for the residents to rebuild their homes.
The county government issued another demolition notice last month, prompting the residents to stage a demonstration in front of the Presidential Office.
Several writers, actors and film directors — including Hou — came out to support them.
The county government then said it would postpone the decision until after the coming Lunar New Year.
“During the meeting [on Saturday], Chou promised to restore electricity to the community as soon as possible and said the county government would not touch the community until after another plot of land is found that would be suitable for the relocation of the Sanying Community,” Hung said.
Indigenous People’s Bureau chief Kolas Foting was with Chou on the visit.
“We’re still waiting for the community to give us a list of households. We’ll begin the process to restore electricity after we receive the list,” he said. “The county commissioner has also promised to help them with relocation.”
Hung, however, said that most Sanying residents were cold to Chou’s announcement.
“It was only a verbal promise. We have to see it in writing and even then, we won’t believe it until it’s turned into action,” Hung said.