Houlong residents protest county’s funeral park plan

WHOSE FUNERAL?:The Miaoli County Government plans to build a funeral park, but residents worry it would pose a threat to the habitat of endangered leopard cats

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Aug 24, 2012 - Page 3

Concerned about maintaining the ecosystem for the endangered leopard cat, residents from Houlong Township (後龍), Miaoli County, yesterday voiced opposition to the county government’s plan to build a funeral park in the township.

“Saving leopard cats rocks, avert a malicious disaster,” Houlong residents dressed as the “eight infernal generals” and two kids dressed up as baby leopard cats chanted at a press conference at the legislature in Taipei.

The eight infernal generals refer to eight characters who accompany immortals in traditional Taoist religious processions to clear away evil spirits on the route.

The Houlong residents were protesting against a plan by the Miaoli County Government to flatten a forest and build a 25 hectare funeral park — including a crematorium and a cemetery — in the hilly area of Shibankeng (十班坑) in the township.

However, local residents are strongly opposed to it, worrying that the project would damage the local ecosystem and pose a threat to the endangered leopard cats in the area.

“The project is unnecessary, because there are already two public crematoriums in Miaoli County and a cemetery that’s only a few kilometers away from the site of the proposed project,” Longkeng Borough (龍坑) chief Kuo Kuei-huei (郭貴輝) told the press conference. “If the forest is destroyed, the habitat of the endangered leopard cats and all the other native animals would be gone.”

Kuo said the project may trigger landslides that threaten the lives of local residents.

“It’s a horrible thing to kill all the endangered leopard cats in the area through a development project,” said Fan Chiang Chun-hung (范姜峻宏), a member of the hip-hop band Kou Chou Ching.

“There’s no need for a third crematorium in Miaoli County. [Miaoli] County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) should really come out and listen to what the locals have to say,” Fan Chiang said.

Opponents of the project also plan to hold a rock concert at the Mucih Temple (母慈宮) on the Ghost Festival, which falls on Aug. 31 this year.

Besides performances by various rock bands, there will also be performances of traditional music, as well as a religious ritual asking the immortals to give the locals a helping hand.