A group has raised more than half of the amount required to pay a deposit for an appeal by the Wang (王) family against a court ruling in favor of a construction company, although only 15 days remain for it to collect the rest.
The Taiwan Alliance for the Victims of Urban Renewal (TAVUR) has collected more than half the required NT$17,560,000 (US$570,000) from the public for the family, who had owned two homes in the Shilin District (士林) for more than 100 years.
The houses were next to each other on a plot of land that has been in the family for generations.
Despite opposition from the Wangs, the Taipei City Government approved an urban renewal project by Le Young Construction Co and demolished the two houses in March 2012 amid physical clashes between more than 400 protesters and 1,000 police officers.
According to the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例), a renewal project may proceed when a certain percentage of property owners agrees to it.
The Wangs and their supporters continued their resistance and built a temporary structure on their former land, while also taking legal action against the construction firm and the city government.
Last month, the Shilin District Court ruled that the temporary structure should be removed and that ownership of the land should be transferred to Le Young.
“Since both sides can still appeal the case, Le Young must pay a deposit of NT$17,560,000 — calculated based on the value and the size of the property — to tear down the house, and the Wangs must pay the same amount as a deposit to prevent the construction company from doing so,” said Thomas Chan (詹順貴), the attorney representing the Wangs.
“Le Young quickly paid the amount, but because the Wangs could not take out that much money at once, and that because we believe this is a symbolic case of a private property owner fighting against a collaboration between large corporates and the government, we decided that we should borrow from the public, from those who are willing to stand with us,” Chan said.
Chan said that at first they were worried that not many people would be willing to donate, “but it actually went better than we’ve expected.”
TAVUR president Peng Lung-san (彭龍三) said: “Maybe not everybody is economically well off, but we found that people across the country were so eager to help, we’ve received loans ranging from NT$11 to hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands.”
“Students, professors, market vendors, victims of urban renewal, social activists, private firms and even temples [have donated]. It is really surprising that people from all walks of life are giving their support,” Peng said.
“I think that by donating, they are protesting the current urban renewal laws as well,” Peng said.