Despite a day-long sit-in involving mostly elderly farmers at the entrance to the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday, lawmakers last night voted to pass an amendment to the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) that is unlikely to satisfy their demands.
The protesters came from various counties and cities, with some having already had their houses or land expropriated to make way for development projects, while others said they were facing forced removal from their homes.
Several elderly protesters attempted to enter the legislative compound in the morning in the hope that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who was chairing a meeting with lawmakers to negotiate controversial provisions to the bill, would listen to them. However, they failed to meet the speaker.
“Is Taiwan a democratic country or a communist state like China?” asked Hsieh Chien-hsiang (謝見祥), an 84-year-old from a Hakka community in Jhubei City (竹北), Hsinchu County.
Holding a photograph of her 100-year-old mother, Wang Chu (汪菊), a 70-year-old woman who lives in Bali District (八里), New Taipei City (新北市), asked for a five-minute talk with Wang.
“We just want a place to live. Is that too much to ask?” she asked.
After on-and-off negotiations during the day, lawmakers failed to reach a consensus on 40 articles, out of a total of 63, and decided to proceed with a second reading of the bill at about 8pm, with provisions over which they remained at odds decided by votes.
The amended Article 30 states that the government must compensate landowners according to the market value of their land, rather than using the much lower published value of the lands as currently stipulated.
DPP Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) proposed that the market value be decided by licensed real-estate appraisers to avoid a situation in which the government has sole discretion to determine the value, but her proposal was voted down.
The amended act stipulates that the government must avoid expropriating farmland and that certain areas designated for agricultural and pastoral use cannot be targeted for conversion by land developers.