Thu, Jul 23, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Control Yuan takes Miaoli to task for destruction of kilns

CULTURAL WRECK The government watchdog chastised the county for razing the kilns, the last witness to Miaoli's once- prosperous pottery trade

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Control Yuan yesterday chastised the Miaoli County Government for failing to preserve a number of kilns in the county's Houlong Township (後龍).

The nation's top government watchdog said in a press release that the county government failed to conduct a thorough investigation of the locations of the three kilns and to seek to preserve them during the county's urban redevelopment of a special zone intended for a future high speed rail station.

Although the county government's Cultural Affairs Bureau received a petition from local advocates calling for the preservation of the kilns, the bureau failed to submit the petition to the county's Cultural Heritage Assessment Commission for consideration, the Control Yuan said.

The county government also hastily dismantled the kilns instead of waiting for the Executive Yuan's Council for Cultural Affairs to convene meetings to deliberate over the fate of the kilns, the Control Yuan said.

Control Yuan members Chou Yang-san (周陽山), Chen Yung-hsiang (陳永祥) and Ma Yi-kung (馬以工) launched the probe into how the county government handled the issue in March after local historians and activists protested against the county government's decision to tear down the kilns — the last witness to the county's once-prosperous pottery industry.

Aside from forming the Alliance to Rescue the Historic Kilns of Miaoli, more than 50 civic groups nationwide and about 600 individuals signed a petition calling on authorities to preserve the kilns.

In 2003, the county government unveiled a plan to build a station for the high speed rail nearby and drew up an urban development project to turn the surrounding area into a transportation hub and high-tech industrial zone.

After the plans were drawn up, the county's Cultural Heritage Assessment Commission said the three remaining old-style kilns were not of “enough historic value for preservation” and could be torn down.

The kilns were eventually razed by the county government on. Jan 11.

“[The county government] not only ignored the cultural value of the kilns, but also wrecked all the traditional kilns in the Houlong area of Miaoli County,” the Control Yuan said, adding that the county government's decision was “obviously flawed” and “sloppy.”

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