Taipei City councilors joined across the party lines yesterday to pan Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) handling of the Wenlin Yuan urban renewal project in Shilin District (士林), demanding the mayor present a comprehensive report on the matter.
The city government’s controversial demolition of two buildings last month was front and center on the council floor as councilors took turns criticizing Hau over the case before delaying his policy report for more than an hour.
“In the 50-page policy report, you [Hau] only devoted one page to discussing the city’s handling of the Wenlin Yuan project. Do you think the case is not significant enough to warrant discussion?” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) asked.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Tung Chun-yen (童仲彥) used a flashlight to flash Hau and city officials on the council floor in a bid to draw attention to the force used by police during a protest prior to the demolition.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Councilor Lee Ching-yuan (李慶元) also joined DPP councilors to criticize the city’s handling of the case and urged Hau to present a special report on the project.
“Mayor Hau, you pledged to remake Taipei into a city full of dreams and warmth, but how can people trust you after the Wang family’s houses were torn down for the urban renewal project?” Lee asked.
In a move to delay Hau’s policy report, DPP councilors then chanted “Dictatorial mayor! Dictatorial city government!” and occupied the council floor, urging Hau to offer an apology for demolishing the buildings owned by the Wang family after they had refused to take part in the urban renewal project.
“The Wenlin Yuan case is a demonstration of systemic violence and highlights the arrogance of city officials. Mayor Hau owes the public an apology,” DPP Taipei City Councilor Lee Chien-chan (李建昌) said.
In response, Hau reiterated that the city government had adhered to the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例) in carrying out the demolition, although he expressed sympathy for the Wang family’s situation.
“I understand that the demolition has spark disputes, but as head of the local government, I must follow the regulations. I understand the feelings of the Wang family and the 36 other households, and I regret that the demolition caused a great dispute,” he said.
Hau promised to continue to communicate with the Wang family and address their needs, as well as discuss the flaws in current regulations with academics and experts.