Sun, Apr 16, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Advocates urge remodeling of Losheng Sanatorium

UNSIGHTLY:It is unlikely that a cultural park at the complex would attract many visitors unless a platform to its entrance is reconstructed, advocates for the site said

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Human rights advocates and residents of the Losheng (Happy Life) Sanatorium held a protest outside the Executive Yuan yesterday, calling for the Cabinet to allocate funds to rebuild the sanatorium’s entranceway, and to right past injustices as it seeks passage of its Forward-looking Infrastructure Construction Project.

The complex — built in the 1930s in New Taipei City’s Sinjhuang District (新莊) — was the nation’s first sanatorium for people with Hansen’s disease.

The Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems’ (DORTS) decision to use the complex as a maintenance depot during the construction of the Xinzhuang MRT line eventually led to its partial demolition.

The Ministry of Cultural Affairs has since designated the remaining buildings a historic landmark.

The Control Yuan in 2012 censored the DORTS for its selection of the site.

While the Ministry of Health and Welfare has plans to turn the site into a cultural park, it is unlikely to attract a substantial number of visitors unless a platform to its original entrance is reconstructed over the maintenance depot, Youth Alliance for Losheng member Ho Hsin-chieh (何欣潔) said, adding that construction of the depot removed an underlying mountain slope.

“Right now all you can see from Zhongzheng Road [after exiting Huilong MRT Station] is a cliff on the other side of the maintenance depot. If you look really hard, you might also be able pick out some houses, but it is not a place that any tourist is going to want to walk into,” she said, adding that visitors have to circle the maintenance depot to gain entrance.

Reconstructing the entranceway would also allow for rebuilding of the original branching road which separated facilities for medical staff from those inhabited by patients, giving visitors a sense of the discrimination suffered by patients, she said.

“The Control Yuan has already ruled that the government made a mistake by choosing this site for the depot — the government’s acknowledgment of this mistake would be superficial if it does not go beyond words,” she said, comparing platform construction costs to the compensation provided to victims of unjust imprisonment.

National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Planning and Building professor Liu Ke-chiang (劉可強), who designed the platform for the advocates, said his design resembled their original proposal, which called for the depot to be constructed inside of the mountain slope to allow it to coexist with the complex above.

The estimated NT$1.4 billion (US$46.05 million) needed for the project’s construction is insignificant when compared with the funds to be appropriated for the government’s Forward-looking Infrastructure Construction Project, he said.

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