Wed, Nov 08, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Sex workers’ group urges city to protect Wenmeng Building

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Members of the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters hold signs outside the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday urging the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs to purchase and preserve the Wenmeng Building in Datong District.

Photo: CNA

The Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters (COSWAS) yesterday urged the nation’s judiciary and the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs to protect the public’s interest by preserving the Wenmeng Building (文萌樓), a Japanese colonial-era building that once housed a brothel, rather than protect the “unjust enrichment” of the property’s owner.

The Wenmeng Building was listed as a historical site by the Taipei City Government in 2006.

The Supreme Court in May upheld a ruling by the Taiwan High Court in favor of Liu Shun-fa (劉順發) and Lin Li-ping (林麗萍), a couple who bought the building in March 2011 and later filed a lawsuit against the rights group for illegally occupying the building that has served as the group’s base.

COSAWAS was removed from the building on Oct. 20.

The couple had earlier sued the group, requesting compensation for what they said was the rent they lost due to the group’s occupation of the building for the past five years.

The first hearing on the lawsuit was held yesterday at Taipei District Court.

Before the hearing, COSAWAS held a news conference in front of the courthouse, where it said Lin was a property speculator and that her claim for NT$2,361,382 (US$78,269) in compensation was unreasonable and against the public interest.

COSWAS secretary Kuo Pei-yu (郭姵妤) said Lin filed a lawsuit against the association in August for “unjust enrichment equaling to the rent” and sought NT$1,741,740 in compensation, a sum based on a monthly rent of NT$29,029 for 60 months.

Lin on Monday arbitrarily added a supplementary request of about NT$600,000, which included the NT$500,000 fine the Department of Cultural Affairs imposed on her in September because she was unable to provide a detailed proposal for the preservation of the site, Kuo said.

The group said the couple had used the rental on a studio apartment in a nearby building that was only 21 years old and has an elevator as the basis for their rental estimate on the Wenmeng Building, which is more than 90 years old and does not have an elevator, and when the Department of Cultural Affairs offered to purchase the building to preserve it a few months ago, the couple asked for NT$10 million.

COSWAS offered to pay about NT$520,000 to use the building, but the couple refused, Kuo said.

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