Wed, Mar 18, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Groups clash over Jiahe’s heritage

By Lii Wen  /  Staff reporter

Landowners and activists yesterday clashed at Jiahe New Village (嘉禾新村) — a recently vacated military dependents’ village near Taipei’s Gongguan (公館) area — as inspectors from the Department of Cultural Affairs conducted an evaluation of the village’s cultural assets.

Cultural preservation groups have called for the village to be designated a cultural heritage site, but the campaign has provoked a backlash from local landowners.

The results of the evaluation are to be announced next month, after a meeting with a larger panel of cultural heritage experts, Cultural Affairs Deputy Director Lee Li-chu (李麗珠) said.

Tensions rose yesterday as more than 100 people, including cultural heritage activists, landowners, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City councilors Lee Ching-yuan (李慶元) and Kuo Chao-yen (郭昭巖), as well as representatives from the Ministry of National Defense, gathered at the site.

Scores of landowners said they support having the government expropriate the land and provide them with compensation, adding that their forefathers were forced to lease land to KMT troops several decades ago.

However, the landowners and KMT councilors stood in unity yesterday, saying they support tearing down the military dependents’ village, which was mainly constructed in the 1950s and features many houses that were built through alterations made to structures from a short-lived military compound.

Accusing preservationists of delaying their rightful compensation, the landowners said their property has been wrongly occupied by the military village for too long.

“I have nothing against any cultural heritage usage for the site, but my point is we must continue to receive rent for our land,” a landowner surnamed Liu (劉) said. “The simplest solution would be to expropriate the land.”

Chao Fu-sheng (趙富盛), deputy leader of the ministry’s unit in charge of redeveloping military dependent’s villages, said the ministry was no longer obligated to continue to pay rent because all military dependents had been evacuated by January.

He said the ministry had already awarded the public tender for the demolition project and was legally obliged to sign a contract with developers soon. The contract calls for the village to be demolished by the end of June.

He added that higher authorities from the Taipei City Government should be involved in the issue given its complexity.

Jiahe Studio spokesperson Yu Liang-kuei (郁良溎), who spearheaded the campaign to preserve the village in September last year, said the landowners’ demands did not necessarily conflict with the activists’ goals.

The government currently offers plans to transfer land rights for buildings listed as cultural heritage sites, Yu added.

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