Farmers and farming activists yesterday lashed out at Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), calling him a liar after the government failed to fulfill a promise he gave two years ago to allow farmers in Dapu Borough (大埔) of Jhunan Township (竹南), Miaoli County, to keep their land.
Despite the promise made by Wu during his term as premier in 2010 to allow Dapu residents Peng Hsiu-chun (彭秀春), Chu Shu (朱樹), Ko Cheng-fu (柯成福) and Huang Fu-chi (黃福記) to keep their houses and farmland amid nationwide protests by farmers over land expropriations, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) decided in an urban planning committee meeting to demolish the homes of Peng, Chu and Ko, while relocating Huang’s farm.
A total of 28 hectares of land in the farming village was originally to be expropriated to make way for a science park.
“Vice President Wu promised us that we could keep our houses and land as premier, it’s written in black and white, he should keep his promise,” Dapu Self-Help Association spokeswoman Yeh Hsiu-tao (葉秀桃) told a press conference at the legislature yesterday, holding an official letter from the Executive Yuan dated Aug. 11, 2010.
“We agree that the buildings and land of those landowners who have not applied for compensative land before the deadline shall be preserved in their original locations,” the concluding paragraph of the letter said.
“It’s been two years since Wu made the promise, but we never felt that the government was sincere about it,” Yeh said. “Someone has already committed suicide. Why can’t the government give us a way to survive?”
Yeh was referring to Chu Feng-ming (朱馮敏), the wife of Chu Shu, who committed suicide in 2010 aged 73, allegedly because she was worried about the future of her family once the house and land had been taken by the government.
Holding a title deed, Peng said she could not understand why the government was taking away her 6 ping (19.8m2) piece of land by force when she legally owns it.
“Vice President Wu, you should remember your promise and come to help us,” she said.
Lee Ming-chih (李明芝), a lawyer representing the self-help group, accused Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) of pushing through the decision to seize properties of the four families, despite objections.
“One of the urban planning committee members expressed opposition in yesterday’s [Tuesday’s] meeting, but Chien ignored it,” Lee said. “There was a lot of false information stated during the meeting, but we were not allowed to clarify that information — this is an unjust decision based on false information.”
Responding to the accusations, Chien said he was merely presiding over the meeting and had no power to single-handedly decide the outcome.
“It’s true that one of the members expressed opposition, but he was the only one who was against it, while everybody else in the meeting agreed to it. As chair of the meeting, I could only make a conclusion based on what the majority of the participants decided,” Chien said via telephone. “Most of the participants were academics. There’s no way we could try to influence them.”