Relocating the Legislative Yuan is an issue that has often been raised over the past two decades, and despite a long history of debate, decision, but no firm action, the issue is once more in the spotlight, after Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) brought it up again on Wednesday.
One reason the matter is receiving a renewed examination is that the Taipei City Government owns the land on which the legislature is located, and has been sending out notifications asking for the return of the land. The Legislative Yuan pays NT$50 million (US$1.6 million) to the Taipei City Government in annual rent for the land.
Prior to the election for legislative speaker on Wednesday morning, Wang said the Legislative Yuan is a symbol of democracy, and his proposal to relocate the legislature was in the hopes of jump-starting discussion among relevant bodies.
If the relocation of the Legislative Yuan is to be implemented, the process of planning and construction would take many years, said Wang, adding that as such, the newly elected legislators for the eighth term of the legislature, sworn in on Wednesday, would not be around when the time came to use the facility, hence there would be no issue of them personally profiting from the relocation.
The Legislative Yuan entertained thoughts of relocation as early as its first term, but in the 20 years since there have been two attempts made, but without success.
The legislature’s Expenditure Examination Committee first proposed in 1990 that the Legislative Yuan be moved to the site of the old Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) Huashan Station. The proposal was passed two years later, in 1992, and in 1994 the central government’s annual budget allotted the Legislative Yuan NT$10 billion for construction at its new site.
However, the relocation plans were effectively terminated when the legislature reviewed the budget during its second term and the opposition blocked the funding.
The Huashan relocation plans were also controversial and attacked by members of the legislature and the public alike as being excessively luxurious. The plans called for a Speaker’s room of more than 100 ping (1 ping is 3.3m2), over 30 ping for each legislator’s personal office and 50 ping for each lawmaker’s research room — not to mention multi-functional ball courts, warm water swimming pools and saunas.
The Legislative Yuan scratched the plans and instead set its sights on land that currently houses the Ministry of National Defense’s Air Force Command Headquarters in Taipei. The Air Force Command Headquarters, along with the ministry, is being relocated to Dazhi District (大直) in order to centralize the nation’s military command capacities and also to comply with the ministry’s policy of cutting down on military personnel and budgets.
The land the Air Force HQ will be leaving behind, on Renai Rd Sec 3, is a 7.2 hectare block exceptional for both its size and prime location.
The Taipei City Government says it wishes to use the land to build social housing, and the Judicial Yuan has also expressed its wish to use the land to establish a “Judicial Park” and unite the scattered Northern Taiwan courts and offices in a single area.
However, the Legislative Yuan, during its third term, went ahead with its plan to build on the land. The new plan called for a revamped Legislative Yuan with an increase to 225 seats from the fourth term onward.