Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday visited the four families in Dapu Borough (大埔), Miaoli County, whose houses were demolished last month, condemning the county government and pledging his efforts to amend laws concerning land expropriation.
“There are times when the government has to expropriate private land for the benefit of the public, but this should happen only when it is absolutely necessary for the good of the public — not for the good of big corporations or political leaders,” Su said.
“When the government takes private land, it must make sure that the expropriation is carried out in an appropriate manner,” Su added.
“The government should not view those who oppose the expropriation as enemies. Government leaders should not tear down people’s houses whenever the ‘godgiven opportunity’ presents itself,” he said.
Su was referring to the Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung’s (劉政鴻) response to criticism over the demolition of the houses belonging to families of Chang (張), Chu (朱), Huang (黃) and Ko (柯) when the families and their supporters protested the forced demolition plan in Taipei last month.
After speaking with the four families and visiting their houses — as well as the site where the Changs’ house once stood — Su said he understood why the demolitions had caused upset, adding that the county government’s reasoning that traffic would be blocked if the houses were not demolished was “just an excuse.”
During the visit, Chang Sen-wen (張森文), one of the former occupants of the demolished houses, asked Su to help to find ways to rebuild their homes.
Chang’s wife, Peng Hsiu-chun (彭秀春), urged the DPP to work to amend laws concerning the expropriation of private lands and houses, “because this could affect everyone.”
DPP Legislator Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻), who accompanied Su on the visit, said the DPP caucus would do its best to campaign for the revision of the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) and the Agricultural Development Act (農業發展條例).
“The Land Expropriation Act needs revision to guarantee a more just and transparent review process for land seizure,” Wu said.
“It is surprising that there currently is no mechanism to protect farmers from having their farmland taken by the government. Instead, there are clauses facilitating the expropriation of farmlands for development projects,” Wu said.
Wu added that besides amending the laws concerning land expropriation, she would try to make a law on farmlands.
“At this point in time, I think we need more comprehensive laws to protect our farmlands from being used for non-agricultural purposes,” Wu said. “This would be the next appropriate step after amending the Land Expropriation Act and the Agricultural Development Act.”