Not only has the government been unable to reclaim state-owned land from an illegal occupant, it is even considering leasing the land to the occupant after winning a court case against it, a lawmaker said.
The Republic of China Scouts Foundation’s Yangmingshan Activity Center, alternatively known as the Scout’s Center, belongs to the General Association of the Scouts of China, currently headed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), and is the location where Taiwan cultivates its scouts.
In 2005, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬), along with the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Foundation, said that the association had been illegally occupying government-owned land since 1970 without paying any form of rent.
Bowing to media and civic pressure, the Yangmingshan National Park Headquarters (YNPH) filed a lawsuit against the association for profiteering on illegally appropriated public land.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the YNPH in 2009, ordering the center to pay the YNPH NT$11 million (US$379,000), which included rent with interest and all illegal profits made during the previous five years from December 2000 through November 2005.
However, the Ministry of the Interior did not actively pursue the payment after the ruling.
In January last year, both defendant and plaintiff agreed to increase the total amount owed to NT$28 million, factoring in 10 years’ worth of rent from December 2005 until November last year.
However, not only has the government not received payment, but senior officials — Deputy Minister of the Interior Lin Tzu-ling (林慈玲) and Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪), a member of the ministry’s administrative committee — had intervened, attempting to settle payment issues by deducting the total amount from the total value of the center’s buildings and forestry, priced at a total of NT$60 million, Lin Shu-fen said.
Lin Shu-fen also said that the remaining sum, about NT$30 million, would be considered “future rent” paid to the YNPH, enabling the center to stay on the property for the next two decades.
Lin Shu-fen said sources provided her with detailed data and that she had met Lin Tzu-ling on July 19 to discuss the deputy minister and Luo’s involvement in the case.
She said she would present relevant details when necessary to show that the government had intervened in the case.
According to the National Property Act (國有財產法), public property cannot be liquidated or processed, but must be returned to the government immediately.
Scout’s Center head Wu Fu-hsun (吳伏訓) said the center had asked the YNPH for alternative payment because it could not pay the entire sum.
Wild at Heart Legal Defense Foundation secretary-general Lynn Lin (林子凌) said it was preposterous for a governmental agency not to defend its rights after winning a case, and instead to try to settle with the side that lost.
It defies social justice, Lynn Lin said, adding that it had undermined the credibility of government agencies.
Luo yesterday said the ministry had yet to report the matter to the Executive Yuan and it was unclear whether any progress had been made in the case, adding that she was not involved in the matter.
Another deputy minister of the interior, Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎), said the defendant and the plaintiff had not yet reached an agreement and the ministry had not spoken to Luo on the matter.
The legislator’s allegations are not substantiated, Chien added.
Lin Tzu-ling said the ministry had not agreed to the center’s method of payment and that both were still under negotiation, adding that the YNPH had sent the center a notice reminding it to remit the owed amount.
However, the center has yet to comply with the notice and the ministry asked the Shilin District Court on May 26 to issue a pay warrant.
Thought the court has not approved the warrant, the ministry’s stance has not changed, Lin Tzu-ling said.
TRANSLATED BY JAKE CHUNG, STAFF WRITER