Wed, Apr 08, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Ex-landowners cry foul over zoo

IGNOREDTaipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin was handed a petition by a group of business owners from the Taipei Zoo mall who did not take kindly to being forced out

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of the Taiwan Nature Trail Society lodge a protest with Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, second left, outside the Taipei City Council yesterday against the city government’s removal of old trees at the former Children’s Transportation Museum.

PHOTO: CNA

Several dozens of people who formerly owned land on which the Taipei City Zoo was built yesterday accused the Taipei City Government of depriving them of their right to do business at the Zoo Mall.

The city government forced more than 40 landowners to move out when it reclaimed the land to build the zoo in 1970 and promised them right of first refusal at the adjacent Zoo Mall as well as discounted rental fees.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) administration, however, ignored the promise — which had been confirmed by the Taipei City Council — and has asked landowners to give up their shops because it plans to reorganize the mall, the protesters said.

Shouting “Give me my shops back!” in front of the Taipei City Council, the protesters urged Hau not to treat them as second-class citizens and presented a petition.

Hau received the petition, but said the city government would not change its decision.

“We already gave subsidies to all the former landowners. The city government will add new entertainment facilities to the mall and we will not make any changes to the plans,” he said.

The mayor said the city government had paid each landowner a subsidy of between NT$1.1 million (US$32,000) and NT$2 million, and followed regulations when reclaiming the mall.

Meanwhile, a group of environmentalists also protested in front of the city council against the Hau administration’s removal of old trees at the former Children’s Transportation Museum ahead of construction of a Hakka cultural park.

Green Party Taiwan Secretary-General Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) accused the city government of removing 128 large trees in the museum located in the Gongguan (公館) area to build an artificial rice paddy and tea plantation for the new park.

Hau declined to comment on the issue.

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