Minister without portfolio-designate Chang Ching-sen (張景森), who was president-elect Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) policy office executive director, stirred up controversy with comments on Facebook calling activists “pathetic” for having sided with a family who resisted an urban renewal project that demolished their residence, but are now reportedly receiving five apartments in the completed apartment complex.
The post, criticized by activists and politicians alike and deleted soon after it was posted, also prompted a response from premier-designate Lin Chuan (林全) yesterday.
Lin said he wished to remind Cabinet members that “with the change of our positions, every slip of the tongue can cause social distress and lead all our efforts in preparation for future reforms to go up in smoke.”
Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times
“Urban renewal has to be done, but it should not be the means for corporations to speculate and rake in profits. The Wenlin Yuan case was so controversial because then-Taipei City Government had become the demolition team of the construction company, which had advertised the project before the dispute was resolved,” Lin told a news conference yesterday. “The procedure was indeed flawed.”
He said that Chang’s remarks “blurred why the project was contentious” since “people’s rights, their emotional attachment to their home, democratic procedure and public interest” are things that cannot be measured in terms of money, “and this is what we should always remember.”
The controversy stemmed from a Facebook post by Chang on Monday about an ad advertising the Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban renewal project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林) that in 2012 met resistance from the Wang (王) family who had refused to be relocated for the renewal and sparked a protest that was joined by scores of activists and students.
“[It was] the most kuso [a term in Taiwanese subculture meaning memed or parodied, but has evolved to indicate something nonsensically funny] activism in history. The Wang family that seemed to have been persecuted by the construction company and the government had a house that was 56.06 ping [185.2m2], but now has been distributed five apartments that total 175.02 ping with a value of more than NT$100 million [US$3.1 million],” Chang wrote.
“Fuck! How pathetic,” he wrote. “I meant those highbrow young people who howled for justice and staged candlelight vigils for the family.”
Chang soon deleted the Facebook post after it attracted a barrage of criticism.
However, Chang wrote another post saying he had no intention of making fun of the Wang family and the activists,” and added: “If the Wang family is still not satisfied with the five apartments they got, I can only say that they are unhappy billionaires. The  protest, in my opinion, has stigmatized urban renewal and halted the city’s renewal projects.”
The second post was also later deleted.
Sunflower movement leader Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) on Monday night posted on Facebook: “Do Chang’s comments … reflect the new government’s stance on housing justice? In other words, [is the government saying] we can tear your house down whether you like it or not, and when we give you some money and housing units in exchange, you must make your kowtows and say: ‘Thank you your highness’?”
He called on the Democratic Progessive Party to remove Chang from the future Cabinet, adding: “My second request is to [former Taipei mayor] Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and other Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politicians: Shut up. You were the ones who tore down their house.”
The Social Democracy Party (SDP) also issued a statement, saying the Wenlin Yuan project was a controversial case that highlighted the unconstitutionality of Article 36 of the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例) that grants the government the power to remove designated buildings on behalf of the implementers of the renewal.
“Is mocking those young activists who have always been walking ahead of the DPP the only thing Chang, a DPP-nominated minister without portfolio, can do? Is this what the DPP mean by residential justice?” the SDP statement said.
Cabinet spokesperson-to-be Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) later on Monday said that Chang’s personal remarks do not represent the future DPP administration.
Additional reporting by Su Fang-ho
Without completed infrastructure and training, the expedited sale of new F-16s from the US could become a burden rather than a help, a military official said yesterday. Reuters on Thursday last week reported that Washington is looking to accelerate the delivery of 66 new F-16C/D Block 70 aircraft in response to what it sees as increasing intimidation by Beijing. Under the terms of the original US$8 billion deal signed in 2019, the US is expected to deliver a single-seater and double-seater for testing next year, then deliver the 66 new aircraft in batches of four or five from 2024 to 2026. The officials
SLIGHTS: Beijing intends to display pro-unification messages and prominently feature Taiwanese volunteers in its propaganda videos, an official said Taiwanese officials are poised to boycott next month’s Beijing Winter Olympics, an official with knowledge of the matter said yesterday, citing concerns that China would slight Taiwan during the Games. This year’s Winter Olympics are scheduled to open on Friday next week amid a diplomatic boycott by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Lithuania, New Zealand, the UK and the US in response to China’s human rights abuses against Uighurs in Xinjiang and crackdowns on democracy advocates in Hong Kong. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said that a Cabinet-appointed task force has determined that Taiwan’s delegation would abstain from the opening and
‘CHINESE STYLE’: Taipei residents do not want smart city efforts based on ‘centralized control, tracking and mass surveillance,’ the campaign’s initiators said Taipei City Councilor Miao Po-ya (苗博雅) yesterday said that her campaign against the Taipeipass (台北通) app has garnered almost 10,000 signatures since Friday, but exposed her to insults and threats by telephone and through social media. It seems to be a “coordinated attack,” as all the messages follow a similar pattern, she said, citing as an example one saying: “We love the Taipeipass. Do not block the smart city plan. Stop interfering with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).” Some people had left disparaging remarks and false information when signing up for the online petition, and there have been attempts to disrupt her
INCREASED COOPERATION: Part of the funding is to be used to further the aims of a Taiwan-US human resources development platform launched in 2015, a source said An increase of ￥100 million (US$878,765) to Japan’s annual foreign affairs budget is for “advancing the Japan-Taiwan relationship,” information published on the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Web site showed. The ministry’s budget for last year was ￥1.7 billion; it was increased to ￥1.8 billion for this year. The ministry wrote that the additional funding was to be used for “cooperating with allies and like-minded countries to safeguard the universal values of the international community.” Regarding Taiwan specifically, the ministry said that it was “responding to an increasingly complex security and economic environment,” and that it aimed to “strengthen diplomacy and cooperation