While legislators and environmentalists yesterday urged the National Science Council (NSC) to halt the fourth-phase expansion project at the Central Taiwan Science Park (CTSP) in Changhua County’s Erlin Township (二林) after the Taipei High Administrative Court revoked its permit earlier this month, NSC secretary-general Cyrus Chu (朱敬一) said the project would continue.
Before a review of the council’s budget at the legislature, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇), Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬), Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國), Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) and People First Party Legislator Chang Show-foong (張曉風) held a press conference calling for its budget to be cut.
Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan chairman Liao Pen-chuan (廖本全) said the development project was “a fraud” and “has become a money pit or a budget black hole,” because the debt of the CTSP administration’s operational fund had increased from NT$67.2 billion (US$2.3 billion) in 2005 to NT$128.4 billion this year.
“The NSC’s saying that it can employ the environmental impact assessment [EIA] for industrial zones for the project and does not need to apply for a policy EIA [for evaluating the necessity of establishing new science parks] is not scientific enough,” Liu said.
He asked why special tax rates and rent discounts should be offered to companies in the science park that contribute only to industrial development and not to scienctific development.
Lin Shu-fen said she questions the need for spending so much taxpayer’s money on a park focused on the precision machinery industry, when there are more than 2,000 hectares of land already allotted to the industry.
Although some people doubt the legitimacy of the court’s verdict overruling the Executive Yuan, Thomas Chan (詹順貴), an attorney who works closely with environmental groups, said the court has the authority to investigate whether the NSC chose an appropriate site for the project and whether the procedure of altering land usage from agricultural to industrial was done according to the Regional Planning Act (區域計畫法).
“The purpose of the project is land speculation,” he said, adding that the development project does not necessarily spur on economic development or create more jobs.
“Whether you stab a person 100 times or 20 times with a knife, it is still a crime. If certain behavior is illegal in itself, claiming the damage is less does not make it legal,” said Lu Shih-wei (陸詩薇), an attorney at the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Foundation.
Tien said that while the legislature’s budget center had estimated national debt would exceed NT$5 trillion next year, the government should take the court’s verdict as a stop-loss point to halt the development project and reign in exorbitant expenditure.
At the committee meeting, NSC Deputy Director-General Hocheng Hong (賀陳弘) said it is reasonable to have debts while making investments and that the council has already planned reimbursement schedules in the coming years.
Facing DPP legislators Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) and Ho Hsin-chun (何欣純)’s inquiries about whether the development should be halted when the central government files an appeal, Chu said: “We will continue to attract business investment and continue development. We are confident we will win the appeal.”
“The development project has been approved by the Executive Yuan, so unless the final verdict decides that the project is illegal or the Executive Yuan withdraws support of the project, the council will proceed with the ongoing developments,” Chu said, adding that he does not agree with the verdict reached earlier this month, because the council won in two previous lawsuits.
“The losses incurred from halting the project would be about NT$230 billion in output value,” he added.