Efforts to have the Wu family houses listed in the Land Subsidence Cultural Heritage Area were rebuffed by the Pingtung County Government’s cultural division last week on grounds that they were not worth preserving.
Located in the Haipu Village (海埔) area of Chiatung (佳冬), one of the areas with the most severe land subsidence in the nation — with land sinking by as much as 3m — the houses were listed as a tourist spot after the rebuilding of the area after Typhoon Morakot in 2009.
The Wu family houses were flooded almost to their rafters during the typhoon. However, they enjoyed some success from post-disaster tourism, leading Liu Duei Tourism Association director-general Yeh Cheng-hsiang (葉正祥) to apply for them to be listed as part of the Land Subsidence Cultural Heritage Area.
The head of the county government’s cultural heritage assets division, Tseng Lung-yang (曾龍陽), said the division sent personnel and academics to visit the site, but they decided the buildings were not worth preserving for several reasons.
One reason was that the owner of the land had not given proof of agreement for it to be used as part of the heritage site, and there was extensive damage to the interior and exteriors of the buildings, which would be too expensive to repair, the division said. It also said there were no nearby groups that would be able to administer the houses if they were repaired, and they were also not suitable to be used as an environment-themed museum.
Officials said they would not pursue the case until they received the landowner’s permission.
While the descendants of the Wu family have said that they would simply demolish the houses, Yeh said a monetary value cannot be placed on cultural assets.