Thu, Apr 08, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Farmers protest against land expropriation

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Farmers from Taichung, Miaoli, Changhua, Hsinchu and Hualien counties hold a joint protest in Taipei yesterday against compulsory purchases of land to build factories and resorts, and against proposals to give tax breaks to certain kinds of business.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Farmers who had their land expropriated by the government for development projects yesterday protested a draft act to facilitate industrial development, expressing concern that the bill could turn the government into a tool of large corporations.

“The government compensated us with a little over NT$9,000 per ping [3.3m²], when our farmland was expropriated, but the published real estate price is more than NT$40,000 per ping,” Wang Wan-ying (王婉盈), a farmer from Taichung County whose land was taken over by the government to be made part of Central Taiwan Science Park, said at a press conference at the legislature.

Wang said she was also concerned about her family's future.

“Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) may want to lower the unemployment rate by creating more industrial parks, but taking land from farmers is killing us — what are we going to do without land?” she asked.

“It’s ironic that my family was one of the farming families trained by the government in advanced agricultural techniques, because now it’s the government that’s destroying our livelihood,” Wang said, while displaying several awards to her family for excellence in agricultural production.

Wang’s family is not an isolated case.

Farmers from Miaoli, Changhua, Hsinchu and Hualien counties whose land was also expropriated for either industrial parks or resorts joined Wang in her protest.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) said that the newly developed industrial parks were the result of the Act for Upgrading Industries (促進產業升級條例), which expired at the end of last year.

However, the government has drafted an act on innovative industries — which also includes clauses authorizing governments to help expropriate land for certain business investments — as an extension of the expired law.

“Thousands of hectares are still unused in previously completed industrial parks, so the government has no reason to take more land from farmers until all the previously expropriated land has been put to good use,” Lin said. “I suspect that the government is doing so not for the public interest. Rather, they are doing so in the interest of large corporations and real estate developers.”

The Alliance for Fair Tax Reform, which supports the farmers, agreed and cited the project to move the Taipei Detention Center in Tucheng City, Taipei County, as an example.

According to the plan, Taipei County Government will expropriate 126 hectares of land to build the new Taipei Detention Center; however, the detention center would only take up around 10 to 20 hectares. The rest would be turned into residential and commercial districts.

“Such a case is not an isolated one, rather, it is just one example of how the government and corporations work together to exploit the disadvantaged,” the alliance said.

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