Tue, Dec 31, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Police, aerotropolis protesters clash outside meeting

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Residents and activists against the Taoyuan Aerotropolis (桃園航空城) project clashed with the police outside the headquarters of the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) in Taipei yesterday as they were refused admittance to a meeting that was to decide whether their land would be seized by the government.

Holding banners protesting against the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project while chanting slogans asking for the Urban Planning Review Committee to allow them to attend the meeting, local residents who are affected by the project and rights activists supporting them demonstrated outside the agency, as police officers formed a line to block them from entering the complex.

“This projectwill have a huge impact on our lives and properties. Why can’t we attend the meeting?” a resident asked police officers, but received no response.

After a brief standoff, some demonstrators decided to climb over the wall of the complex, but their attempt failed when police officers held on to their feet, preventing them from moving.

A few minutes later, the committee finally allowed representatives of the protesters to attend the meeting, but they were only given a few minutes to talk and were then told to leave, triggering another wave of protests.

“Thousands of hectares of private land is to be seized to build a third runway for Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, but we really doubt the necessity of it with the declining numbers of passengers and flights using the airport,” Chan Hsien-chang (詹憲章), spokesman for the Taoyuan Aerotropolis Self-Help Association, told the meeting.

“Even if it’s absolutely necessary, do we really need to pick an option that would affect the largest number of residents?” Chan asked.

Chan went on to allege that the entire project is to benefit big corporations with connections in the government, as the second phase of the project involves the construction of commercial and industrial centers, while some local politicians are also proposing building a casino resort.

“The details of the project are yet to be drawn up and it is not due to start for another 20 years, so why the hurry to take our land?” Chan asked.

Deputy Minister of the Interior Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇), who presided over the meeting, did not offer a response.

Soon after Chan and the other representatives had spoken, they were asked to leave.

Another protester, Pan Chung-cheng (潘忠政), refused to leave the building and was forcibly removed by police officers.

The committee approved the project at about noon, but the residents only learned about it hours later when they were asked to comment by reporters.

They vowed to continue their resistance to the project.

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