Sun, Aug 07, 2016 - Page 3 News List

NPP denies involvement in Kaohsiung land fight

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Civic groups and New Power Party (NPP) legislators yesterday said that the party has not provided substantial help to Kaohsiung land rights advocates, following media reports that the party had involved itself in a fight against a city-sponsored demolition in a bid to lay the foundations for its platform in the 2018 local elections.

“Our main source of help has come from extremely small political parties such as the Free Taiwan Party and Green Party Taiwan,” said Cheng Yuan-wen (鄭淵文), head of a self-help association for residents of Kaohsiung’s Dagouding (大溝頂) — a row of houses in the city’s Qishan District (旗山) that is slated for demolition as part of efforts to improve an underlying drainage canal.

“Our only connection with the NPP is that we asked [NPP legislators] Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸) and Kawlo Iyun Pacidal to hold a Taipei press conference, that is all. They absolutely have not sent aides to help us,” he said.

While Kawlo had helped them request government documents, neither legislator had agreed to help with the news conference, Hung said, adding that Kawlo’s office director had spoken at a rally held by the self-help association last month.

Dissatisfaction with the city’s resettlement plans has caused more than 30 residents to resist the demolition, which the city has scheduled for next week.

Media reports earlier this week said Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had asked President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to put pressure on the NPP to stop “interfering” in the Dagouding controversy, after NPP party aides reportedly encouraged residents to resist resettlement.

“We welcome any progressive forces paying attention to Kaohsiung issues, but we cannot accept those progressive forces standing with the traditionalist and ‘feudal’ Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in resisting the Kaohsiung City Government,” she said earlier this week, in response to media queries.

The NPP and DPP cooperated closely during January’s national elections, but are expected to compete against each other for votes in the 2018 local elections.

“It is not that the NPP is ‘interfering’ in anything — these kinds of issues are what we have always cared about,” Kawlo said, while acknowledging that a party aide had spoken at the self-help association’s rally.

“We definitely respect the decision of the city government,” she said, adding the party was still in the process of understanding the issue, with no plans to stake a definite position or provide help to residents before the city’s demolition deadline next week.

NPP Secretary-General Chen Hui-min (陳惠敏) said the party planned to compete in all counties and cities nationwide during the 2018 local elections and would likely establish offices in both Tainan and Kaohsiung.

There were not yet any specific plans for how the party would compete in Kaohsiung, she said.

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