President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday instructed the Cabinet and the Ministry of the Interior to handle the Dapu Borough (大埔), Miaoli County, forced demolition case after a court ruled the expropriation had been illegal, the Presidential Office said yesterday.
The Taichung High Administrative Court on Friday reversed a previous verdict and ruled that the process the government used to take the land from four households had violated the law.
The court said that the ministry had not conducted a proper review of public interest and necessity before proceeding with the project.
Finding in favor of four families who filed administrative suits after their land was taken from them without their consent, the court ordered the government to return the land to the plaintiffs.
However, lawsuits on similar grounds by 19 other landowners were rejected because they had agreed to the terms of the land expropriation and were not in need of the court’s protection, the court ruled.
Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻), a driving force behind the project since he took office in 2005, yesterday said that the ruling left him uncertain about how to promote economic development if every project was subject to court review.
The county government began the process of trying to take land for the project by force in June 2010.
Liu said that economic development is the only way for the people to have a good life, but future development projects may all be delayed by pending court decisions, “therefore the impact of the Dapu verdict is too serious for Taiwan’s future economic development.”
He added that it has been five years since the Dapu development project first began, and in another five years it may still not be finished.
He said he was therefore worried about Taiwan’s future, especially when development projects in China are much more efficient.
Asked if he will appeal the case, Liu said the ministry has not contacted him, and they have not talked on the issue.
Commenting on Liu’s remarks, Peng Hsiu-chuan (彭秀春) yesterday said: “It’s really ridiculous.”
She said that as a simple citizen, she only humbly wishes to take back the land belonging to her family and have a peaceful life: “Economic development is something those top officials should take care of, we simple citizens have no power to intervene.”
Chu Ping-kun (朱炳坤), whose home was one of the ones demolished, said that even if it is good for economic growth, the government should not forcibly seize private land without negotiating with them.
Ko Chih-chuan (柯智傳), another affected resident, said that farmers need to grow vegetables or fruits to feed their families, and that without their farmland they may become homeless.
Another affected resident, Huang Kun-yu (黃坤裕), said he would give his full support if the government was doing something to benefit the public, but in the Dapu case, he said the land was taken to sell for high-rise housing: “It has nothing to do with developing the economy.”