Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said he could not promise that the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program would not involve large-scale expropriations, but added that he would “apologize” for any unplanned expropriation, drawing ire from land rights advocates.
In an interview with Chinese-language online media outlet the Reporter published yesterday, Lin said only two of the railway projects in the program would involve large-scale expropriation: an MRT line in New Taipei City’s Sindian District (新店) and another in Taoyuan.
The two projects and their expropriation plans were approved by the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration, he added.
However, in an interview with the Chinese-language Business Today in April, Lin had said there would be “no large-scale expropriation in the development of railway projects.”
“If I made a wrong statement and if expropriation is necessary, I would face the public and say sincerely: ‘I am sorry for making a wrong statement, but the expropriation is justifiable,’” Lin told the Reporter.
“Expropriations should not be carried out if they are unnecessary, but if necessary, efforts have to be made to ensure that there is no forced relocation,” the premier said.
Lin said he would not exclude large-scale expropriation from the program to ensure flexibility, as expropriation could be an acceptable option for people.
Of the 38 planned railway projects, five explicitly state the necessity for large-scale expropriations and 13 include expropriation plans from other urban development programs or suggests expropriation as a possible option, the Reporter said.
The issue of expropriations is part of the controversy surrounding the railway projects, as critics have voiced concerns over the possibility of forced relocations.
“Land is people’s life. Can your apologies make up for the lives that are lost? [Former vice president] Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and [former Miaoli County commissioner] Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) had apologized [for expropriations in Miaoli], but could they bring back the lives of Chu Feng-min (朱馮敏), Chang Sen-wen (張森文) and Chu Ping-kun (朱炳坤) [whose deaths were linked to the expropriation of their homes]?” National Chengchi University land economics professor Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮) said.
An apology from a premier whose term could end any time would be of little significance, said Hsu, who has estimated that the railway projects would displace up to 115,000 people.
Lin and his Cabinet, with their self-contradictory comments over the issue, do not properly understand the program they are trying to bulldoze through the legislature, rights campaigner Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) said.
“The Democratic Progressive Party government is to repeat [the disastrous policy] of [former president] Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and make way for the KMT’s return to power,” Chen said.
The Executive Yuan said the figures related to the railway projects quoted by the Reporter were not the “final version.”
Only a planned MRT line in Taoyuan would involve large-scale expropriation, which is part of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project and not the program, the Executive Yuan said, without mentioning the Sindian MRT line.
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