Farmers yesterday ended their overnight protest in front of the Presidential Office against land seizures by the government, but despite their persistence, representatives were not granted a meeting with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Thousands of farmers from all over the country and their supporters began their protest on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office on Saturday evening and stayed there overnight.
About a dozen representatives of the farmers were invited to the Presidential Office yesterday morning, but they did not stay long because they said the president did not even receive them to show that he cared about their cause.
PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES
“When [Ma] visited farming villages during his presidential campaign, he was given a warm welcome and he received farmers’ votes,” Taiwan Rural Front spokeswoman Tsai Pei-hui (蔡培慧) said. “Now that the farmers have come knocking on his door to voice their opposition to the government forcibly taking their land, the president refuses to see them.”
Tsai said in Western and other developed countries, governments rarely expropriate farmland, and even when they expropriate land, they do so in order to build public facilities, such as schools, roads and hospitals.
“The government should not just take whatever they want without any way for people to voice their opinion,” she said.
Yesterday, the demonstrators sowed seeds on Ketagalan Boulevard to show that they are determined to have their farmland returned to them.
“We are all farmers. We are praying to the gods to stop land expropriation,” said Liu Ching-chang (劉慶昌), a farmer in Erchongpu (二重埔) in Hsinchu County’s Jhudong Township (竹東).
Farmers from Dapu Borough (大埔) in Jhunan Township (竹南) and Wanbao Borough in Houlong Township (後龍), both in Miaoli County, Jhubei City (竹北), Erchongpu in Hsinchu County, Siangsihliao (相思寮) in Changhua County’s Erlin Township (二林) and Taipei County’s Tucheng (土城) gathered in front of the Presidential Office on Saturday night because all the communities have faced, or may be facing, government expropriation to make way for various development projects.
Although farmers across the country have been fighting land expropriation for years, their campaign did not gain public attention until the Miaoli County Government sent excavators escorted by police to dig up rice paddies in Dapu last month.
Later yesterday, Presidential Office Spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said the president had instructed Premier Wu Dun-yih (吳敦義) to deal with the farmers’ grievances.
“Ma attached great importance to the rice paddy incident in Miaoli County’s Dapu” when he met with ranking officials on Saturday night, Lo said.
During that meeting, Ma instructed Wu to negotiate with the Miaoli County Government as soon as possible and to better manage the issue, Lo said.
“The most important thing is to take into consideration the feelings of the farmers and work out a [better] solution,” Lo quoted Ma as saying.
Additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling and Staff Writer
EMBRACE CHANGE: Jensen Huang told NTU graduates that instead of worrying about AI itself, they should worry that people with expertise in AI would be taking their jobs Artificial intelligence (AI) is redefining the computer industry, and Taiwanese companies could play a major role in replacing the world’s traditional computers as they are the foundation of the industry, Nvidia Corp cofounder and CEO Jensen Huang (黃仁勳) said in Taipei yesterday. Huang made the remarks while giving the keynote speech at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) commencement ceremony. AI has created immense opportunities, and versatile companies can be expected to take advantage and boost their position, while less flexible firms would perish, he said. “In every way, this is a rebirth of the computer industry and a golden opportunity for the companies of
‘ARCHAIC’: An interpretation of a law that considered Chinese as Taiwanese nationals was scrapped after the death of a Chinese in Kaohsiung led to state reparations An administrative mandate to consider Chinese as Taiwanese citizens was outdated, Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday, a day after the Executive Yuan ordered that agencies disregard the 30-year-old interpretation. Chen made the remarks at an event held by the Environmental Protection Administration in Taipei following changes to the administrative mandate concerning the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例). The previous interpretation of the law was archaic and contrary to the workings of laws and regulations, he said, adding that the order was made to avoid unnecessary problems created by the mandate. The Mainland
NOT BUYING IT: One of the goals of Beijing’s Cross-Strait Media People Summit was to draw mainstream media executives to discuss the ‘one country, two systems’ formula Taiwanese news media insist on press freedom and professionalism, and would never become a tool of China’s “united front” campaign, Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday, responding to media queries about the lack of Taiwanese media executives at the Cross-Strait Media People Summit in Beijing. Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Chairman Wang Huning (王滬寧) was reportedly furious that no Taiwanese media representatives attended a scheduled meeting with him on Thursday last week. “Beijing should take Taiwan’s determination to pursue freedom and democracy seriously. We also hope that it will not use vicious means to interfere with Taiwan’s development into a
IMMIGRATION REFORM: The legislative amendments aim to protect the rights of families to reunify, and to attract skilled professionals to stay and work in Taiwan Foreigners who are highly skilled professionals, top-prize winners in professional disciplines, investment immigration applicants or have made special contributions to Taiwan can soon apply for permanent residency on behalf of their spouses and minor or disabled children after the legislature approved amendments to the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法). The amendments, which were proposed by the Ministry of the Interior and approved by the Executive Yuan on Jan. 12, aim to attract foreign talent to Taiwan and encourage them to stay. They would take effect once they are signed by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). The amendments involved changing 63 articles, making it the biggest