A crowd of people affected by government land seizures yesterday braved the forefront of Typhoon Nanmadol to rally outside the Executive Yuan and protest the “pre-auction” measure used in development projects, calling for negotiations with landowners.
“President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) talked about justice in housing and justice in land use, but we don’t feel he’s been sincere, because our problems have not been solved and everything continues as before,” MRT A7 Station Development Project Self-Help Group chairwoman Hsu Yu-hung (徐玉紅) said.
“We demand that the government stop the expropriation project and stop the ‘pre-auction,’ which has no legal basis,” Hsu said.
The “MRT A7 Station Development Project” refers to plans to create an industrial zone, a commercial zone, regular housing complexes and “suitable housing” complexes near the station, now temporarily named “A7,” along an express railroad connecting central Taipei and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
Although the Ministry of the Interior, which initiated the project, said the project was to build “suitable housing complexes” to be sold at lower prices as a measure to cool down the skyrocketing real- estate market, affected residents believe the government is only trying to help land developers. This was because of the 186 hectares of land to be expropriated, only 9.7 hectares would be used to build “suitable housing,” while 43.52 hectares would be turned into an industrial zone and the rest would become regular housing or commercial zones.
Residents are also upset that, before the expropriation process has been completed, the government is already inviting bids.
“We still live here, we still have land ownership certificates in our hands, how could the government put our land on ‘pre-auction?’” Hsu asked. “The government says land ownership would not be transferred to a new owner until the expropriation process is completed. Well, this is like putting a knife to our throats and telling us: ‘Don’t worry, we won’t kill you right away.’”
Liao Pen-chuan (廖本全), an as-sociate professor in National Taipei University’s department of real estate and built environment, who attended the protest to show his support for the protesters’ demands, agreed with Shih.
“I want to ask the government three questions: First, there are already too many development projects, has the government done an evaluation on the public interests and necessity of the A7 development project? Second, what is the legal basis of ‘pre-auction’ and, third, who made the decision to put private land on ‘pre-auction?’” he asked.
“If the president cannot realize justice in housing and justice in land use for these people protesting here, he should just shut up,” Liao added.
After handing a petition to an official surnamed Lin of the ministry’s Department of Land Administration in front of the Executive Yuan, the protesters handed in a petition letter at the Presidential Office.
There was some minor verbal clashes and some pushing and shoving when the Executive Yuan initially sent a security officer to receive the petition.
Asked to comment on the “pre-auction,” Department of Land Administration Director Hsiao Fu-tao (蕭輔導) said that the measure had no basis in law, but defended it as a move to speed up the development project “since it would take too long if we do everything step-by-step.”