Following renewed conflicts with Le Young Construction Co (樂揚建設) and residents agreeing to the Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban renewal project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林), the Wang (王) family, who lost their house despite their opposition to the project, thanked their supporters while vowing to continue with their struggle.
“Many people have asked me what I am planning to do next. I have to be very honest and say that I have no idea, but I know I will insist on continuing what I have been doing and will discuss our next step with my lawyer,” Wang Kuang-shu (王廣樹), whose home was torn down by the city government two years ago, told a news conference held yesterday outside the site where the family’s homes used to stand.
“I would like to thank all the activists and lawyers who have supported us in the past few years, we would not be able to have continued without your support,” Wang said, bowing down along with several family members
The majority of the family decided to fight on after a verdict handed down in January ruled that they are illegally occupying the plot of land that both the Wangs and Le Young claim.
Wang Kuang-shu’s son, Wang Yao-te (王耀德), decided to flatten a temporary housing unit on the disputed plot of land on Friday morning, saying that he would not “play along in the game,” leaving the rest of the family in shock.
The company fenced up the plot of land as soon as the temporary housing unit was flattened, leading to several scuffles between Le Young construction workers, security staff, members of the Wang family and their supporters between Friday morning and yesterday morning.
Adding to the statement his son made on Friday Wang Kuang-shu said that he and the other family members have not been forced to continue their resistance by the Taiwan Alliance for Victims of Urban Renewal (TAVUR),
“No one forced me to do anything, I’ve chosen to stand up against the urban renewal project because I think it’s unjust,” he said. “I was not, and will never be forced to do something by anyone, in fact, I’m grateful to the TAVUR for their help in the past few years.”
In response to the accusation that Wang Yao-te made on Friday that the alliance collected NT$17.56 million (US$578,000) from the public in his name as a deposit to appeal the case without his consent, and that he may have to repay the debt in the end, TAVUR secretary Chen Hung-ying (陳虹穎) said that “the alliance did not decide to collect money from the public as loans unilaterally. We checked with the Wangs several times to make sure this is what they wanted to do.”
Holding up a copy of the IOU, Chen said the alliance “borrowed” the money from the public in the group’s name, adding that all the money was deposited into the alliance’s bank account.
“We’ve consulted lawyers, and we are certain that the deposit will be given back by the court when the case is closed, and we will be responsible for giving the money back to the public,” Chen said.
Liao Pen-chuan (廖本全), associate professor at National Taipei University’s Department of Real Estate and Built Environment, who has been a longtime supporter of the Wang family, said that he could understand why Wang Yao-te has decided to give up.
“There’s no need to blame Wang Yao-te, because the family has been under great pressure. It’s understandable that he has made such a decision,” Liao said.