Changhua pushes preservation efforts

REVIEW AND MONITOR::A new task force has been tasked with documenting and keeping an eye on all sites reported as having potential cultural value

By Chang Tsung-chiu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sat, Jan 21, 2017 - Page 4

The Changhua County Government has stepped up efforts to increase horizontal communication across all its offices and establish a standard operation procedure to better protect historic buildings following a debacle surrounding the demolition of the residence of Tu Hsi-kui (杜錫圭).

The county’s Department of Cultural Affairs listed the Changhua City residence of Tu, the first county commissioner elected in a popular election in 1952, as a potential heritage site for conservation. The structure was built in 1930.

The site was scheduled for review by June, but was on Saturday last week torn down by a construction company that owned the plot of land on which the residence stood.

The firm’s owner was familiar with a legal loophole that allowed the company to demolish the building before it could be reviewed, department Director Chen Wen-pin (陳文彬) said.

To prevent similar incidents, the county government has established a task force consisting of the county’s police department, Department of Economic Affairs, Department of Public Works and Department of General Affairs, he said.

The task force was tasked with complying with last year’s amendments to the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法), which require that all sites reported as having potential cultural value to be documented and monitored, Chen said.

Regarding the Tu residence incident, he said the county government would take the construction company to court.

A series of unnoticed demolitions of historic buildings has shocked and enraged historical preservation circles nationwide.

The building that housed Da Sin Canned Pineapple Co was torn down on New Year’s Day, while half of the Songju Tang building complex, a series of connected four-story buildings, was demolished on Monday. Both were built during the Japanese colonial era.

Department of Cultural Affairs records showed that 10 sites are pending review and must be monitored: Hosing Police Station and its dormitories in Lugang Township (鹿港); Radio Taiwan International’s office in Lugang; Anshan Police Station in Fenyuan Township (芬園); the grave of Lee An-jen (李安人) in Homei Township (和美); the old site of Yuanlin Township’s (員林) First Market; the residence of the Japanese mayor in Yuanlin; the residence of the dean of Yuanlin Elementary School; the Yuanlin office of the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection; South Yuanlin Station, which is on a section of railway used exclusively for the transportation of sugar; and a Japanese colonial era building in Beidou Township (北斗).