Two waves of protests broke out at Taipei City Hall yesterday morning as demonstrators urged Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to address the needs of the victims of two urban renewal projects.
Several residents who support the stalled Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban renewal project in Shilin District (士林) staged a protest in the lobby of city hall, saying Hau had reneged on his promise to meet them this week to address their concerns, and threatening to camp out at city hall until the city government answered their requests and resumes construction.
“We do not feel the city government is sincere about solving the disputes. By participating in the urban renewal project and trusting the city government’s execution, we are being punished. We have decided to wait no more and are standing up to fight for our rights,” said Hsieh Chun-chiao (謝春嬌), director of a self-help association composed of 36 households that support the project.
Chien Yu-rong (簡裕榮), deputy director of Taipei City’s Urban Redevelopment Office, said the office understood the protesters’ concerns and has helped organize meetings between supporters and opponents of the project, as well as the construction firm, to seek consensus on the issue.
Construction on the project’s apartments has been stalled since the city government forcefully dismantled two apartments owned by a family surnamed Wang (王) in March, sparking an ongoing protest from the family and anti-urban renewal activists.
Hsieh and the protesters blamed the city for failing to step up efforts to resolve the dispute and said they would wait for the mayor to meet with them in the lobby. The group later agreed to leave after the officials promised that Hau would arrange a meeting with the 36 households next month to address their concerns.
Later, when Hau arrived in the lobby to attend a press conference on the New Year countdown party, two students advocating for the rights of residents of Huaguang Community (華光) in Daan District (大安) rushed to the lobby and shouted: “Save Huaguang Community, Hau Lung-bin,” before being removed by city police.
Outside city hall, about 30 residents of the community, mostly families of veterans and people with disabilities, chanted: “Save good citizens, Mayor Hau,” and called on the city government to help them settle in the face of the Ministry of Justice’s plan to tear down their homes.
The community, a public property near Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, has housed public workers from the ministry and military personnel since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) fled to Taiwan in 1949.
While the descendants of the group continued to live in the community, the ministry announced in 2000 that the community would be torn down as part of an urban renewal project, and decided earlier this year to carry out the plan and ask the residents to move out of the community by tomorrow.
A 50-year-old resident surnamed Chia (賈) accused President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of ignoring their rights and called on the city to help draw a new urban renewal plan so that they could continue to live in the community.
“We voted for President Ma in the past presidential elections, but he has turned his back on us. Mayor Hau, please help us fight against this project of injustice and don’t turn your back on Taipei residents,” she said.
Liu Hsiu-ling (劉秀玲), a division chief at Taipei City’s Urban Redevelopment Office, said the city had suggested to the Ministry of the Interior that the central government should allow the land to be used for residential purposes in its urban renewal plan, and the ministry has agreed with the suggestion.
The Ministry of Justice or the future developer of the land are authorized to present a relocation plan for the community residents after the development plan is finalized.